Ideological Consistency and Valence


We study electoral competition between two win-motivated candidates, considering that voters care both about the valence and the ideological consistency of the competing candidates. When valence asymmetries are not too large we find a unique pure strategy Nash equilibrium in which (i) platform polarization (i.e. the distance between the candidates’ policy proposals) is solely determined by the strength of preferences for consistency, and (ii) the expected policy outcome may move to the right as the valence of the leftist candidate increases. When valence differences are large, a mixed equilibrium emerges: the high-valence left-wing candidate chooses a moderate right policy and the low-valence right-wing candidate responds, usually, with an extreme right position and, occasionally, with a moderate left one. Our analysis provides novel insights regarding candidates’ flip-flopping incentives, and parties’ motives to nominate low-quality candidates.