Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 19 > Issue 3

Incumbent Performance and Electoral Control: A Comment

Germán Gieczewski, Department of Politics, Princeton University, USA, germang@princeton.edu , Christopher Li, Department of Economics and Political Science, Vanderbilt University, USA, christopher.m.li@vanderbilt.edu
Suggested Citation
Germán Gieczewski and Christopher Li (2024), "Incumbent Performance and Electoral Control: A Comment", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 19: No. 3, pp 331-353. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00023038

Publication Date: 10 Jun 2024
© 2024 G. Gieczewski and C. Li
Democracy,  Formal modelling,  Game theory,  Political economy
Electoral accountabilitydemocratic fatiguedynamic games


Download article
In this article:
The Optimal Retrospective Rule 
Appendix A 


We note and correct a flaw in the analysis of Ferejohn (1986)'s seminal model of electoral accountability. In the original solution, it is supposedly optimal for the voter to impose a stationary path of performance targets on officeholders. We show that, in fact, stationary paths are suboptimal; the voter can do better by choosing a path of performance targets that become increasingly lenient over time, which extracts more effort from the politician earlier on. We explicitly solve for the optimal performance targets for a class of examples and discuss the substantive implications of our exercise.