DP3372 Optimal Campaigning in Presidential Elections: The Probability of Being Florida

Author(s): David Strömberg
Publication Date: May 2002
Keyword(s): elections, political campaigns, public expenditure
JEL(s): C72, D72, H50, M37
Programme Areas: Public Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=3372

This Paper delivers a precise recommendation for how presidential candidates should allocate their resources to maximize the probability of gaining a majority in the Electoral College. A two-candidate, probabilistic-voting model reveals that more resources should be devoted to states which are likely to be decisive in the Electoral College and, at the same time, have very close state elections. The optimal strategies are empirically estimated using state-level opinion polls available in September of the election year. The model?s recommended campaign strategies closely resemble those used in actual campaigns. The Paper also analyses how the allocation of resources would change under the alternative electoral rule of a direct national vote for president.