Antonella Ianni, University of Southampton

"On the Heresthetics of Salience: Competition over Voters' Attention"


We study a voting model in which two candidates compete for the attention of voters, who value both the spatial dimension of policy, as well as each candidate's personal attribute of valence. Candidates run in a winner-take-all election and draw voters' attention towards the attribute in which they enjoy a comparative advantage, by thus making it salient in voters' mind. The paper offers three contributions. First, it provides novel and significant experimental evidence in support of salient behaviour in voting. Second, it characterizes policy salient political equilibria as well as valence salient political equilibria with salient voters. Third, it suggests ways in which the notion of salience can be made operational, leading the way to testable implications. Experimental as well as theoretical results show that the median voter paradigm and its implications are challenged if voters are salient, as this raises a modeled attention externality, whereby strategic positioning of candidates in the policy dimension affects how attributes are perceived and ballots are cast.


Contact person: Peter Norman Sørensen