Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 16 > Issue 2

Polarized Extremes and the Confused Centre: Campaign Targeting of Voters with Correlation Neglect

Gilat Levy, London School of Economics, UK, g.levy1@lse.ac.uk , Inés Moreno de Barreda, University of Oxford, UK, ines.morenodebarreda@economics.ox.ac.uk , Ronny Razin, London School of Economics, UK, r.razin@lse.ac.uk
Suggested Citation
Gilat Levy, Inés Moreno de Barreda and Ronny Razin (2021), "Polarized Extremes and the Confused Centre: Campaign Targeting of Voters with Correlation Neglect", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 16: No. 2, pp 139-155. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00019125

Publication Date: 24 Feb 2021
© 2021 G. Levy, I. Moreno de Barreda and R. Razin
Political Economy,  Voting,  Campaigns,  Democracy,  Elections
Correlation neglectbehavioural biasesstrategic campaignspolarization


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In this article:
The Model 
Intensifying the Bases 
Persuading Swing Voters 


We model the effect of competing political campaigns on the opinion of voters who exhibit correlation neglect, i.e., fail to understand that different campaigns might be correlated. We show that political campaigners can manipulate voters' beliefs even when voters understand the informativeness of each campaign separately. The optimal coordination of campaigns involves negative correlation of good news and sometimes full positive correlation of bad news. We show that competition in targeted campaigns has the effect of changing the opinions of different groups in different ways; competition increases polarisation among extreme voters but at the same time increases the variance and the quality of moderates' voting decisions.