The Real Swing Voter's Curse
A key idea in political economy is that policy is often tailored to voters who are not ideologically attached - swing voters. We show, however, that in political environments where political parties can use repression and violence to exclude voters from elections, they may optimally target the swing voters. This is because they anticipate that if they had to compete for the support of these voters, they would end up giving them a lot of policy favors. Hence in weakly institutionalized political environments swing voters are cursed rather than blessed. We illustrate the analysis with a discussion of recent political events in Zimbabwe.
We are grateful to Rob Davies and Alex Debs for their comments and suggestions. The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.