Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 18 > Issue 2

Overreacting and Posturing: How Accountability and Ideology Shape Executive Policies

Peter Bils, Department of Political Science and Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University, USA, peter.h.bils@vanderbilt.edu
Suggested Citation
Peter Bils (2023), "Overreacting and Posturing: How Accountability and Ideology Shape Executive Policies", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 18: No. 2, pp 153-182. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00020177

Publication Date: 11 Apr 2023
© 2023 P. Bils
Electionscrisespolitical agency


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In this article:
The Model 
Voter Welfare 
The Effects of Ideology 


Voters rely on executive politicians to craft effective solutions to difficult problems such as crises. Executives are frequently criticized, however, for exaggerating the degree of action required to address a problem. In this paper, I develop a model of elections in which the incumbent must respond to a crisis. In equilibrium, the executive exaggerates policy in order to appear informed to voter. This exaggeration can be due to well-informed executives overreacting to their information, or uninformed executives posturing and acting boldly, despite their lack of information. I show that limits on executive authority can improve policy responses, but may backfire by limiting discretion and encouraging posturing. Finally, I find that ideological disagreement over how to respond to the crisis can increase overreacting and posturing.