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

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20/05/2002

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Abstract

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.