Public Choice

, Volume 109, Issue 1, pp 119-139

First online:

What do Candidates Maximize (and Why Should Anyone Care)?

  • Jeffrey MilyoAffiliated withHarris School, University of Chicago

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Much empirical work on Congressional elections implicitly assumesthat candidates are vote-maximizers; this may be a fairassumption for challengers, but it is not a good description ofincumbent behavior. I present a general intertemporal utilitymaximizing model of candidate behavior, which includes vote-maximization as a special case. I then demonstrate that thesemodels have important consequences for both the design andinterpretation of empirical work.