Persuasion in Politics

Kevin M. Murphy
University of Chicago; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Andrei Shleifer
Harvard University – Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

January 2004

NBER Working Paper No. w10248

Abstract:

We present a model of the creation of social networks, such as political parties, trade unions, religious coalitions, or political action committees, through discussion and mutual persuasion among their members. The key idea is that people are influenced by those inside their network, but not by those outside. Once created, networks can be rented out’ to politicians who seek votes and support for their initiatives and ideas, which may have little to do with network members’ core beliefs. In this framework, political competition does not lead to convergence of party platforms to the views of the median voter. Rather, parties separate their messages and try to isolate their members to prevent personal influence from those in the opposition.

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