Ulric B. and Evelyn L. Bray Social Sciences Seminar

Tuesday, May 10, 2022
4:00pm to 5:00pm
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Baxter Lecture Hall
To Fight or to Govern? Political Capital and Electoral Competition
Congyi Zhou, Assistant Professor of Political Science, New York University,

Abstract: We extend classical accountability models by endogenizing a political challenger in electoral competition. We consider an incumbent party and a challenging party that may use their political resources to either improve government efficiency or set up political constraints on their opponent. The model shows that the anticipation of voter's responsiveness to parties' political resource investments discourages parties from adopting political constraints. However, parties are more likely to invest in such constraints when uncertainty about candidates' competences is high, and when private (ideological) goods are very valuable. Being in office skews the office-holder's preference toward governance-enhancing political capital, while the opposition's status pushes them toward opposition-enhancing technologies. This reinforces the parties' electoral edge in the upcoming election and points to a type of path dependency in political capital specialization and incumbency advantage that has not been previously identified in the literature.

Written with Catherine Hafer and Scott Tyson

For more information, please contact Letty Diaz by phone at 626-395-1255 or by email at letty.diaz@caltech.edu.