Ryan D. Enos and Eitan D. Hersh. Campaign Perceptions of Electoral Closeness: Uncertainty, Fear and Over-Confidence. British Journal of Political Science, available on CJO2015. doi:10.1017/S0007123415000435.
In partnership with state Democratic parties and the Obama campaign, the authors surveyed staffers from nearly 200 electoral campaigns in 2012, asking about the expected vote share in their races. Political operatives’ perceptions of closeness can affect how they campaign and represent citizens, but their perceptions may be wildly inaccurate: campaigns may irrationally fear close contests or be unrealistically optimistic. Findings indicate that political operatives are more optimistic than fearful, and that incumbent and higher-office campaigns are more accurate at assessing their chances. While the public may be better served by politicians fearing defeat, campaigns are typically staffed by workers who are over-confident, which may limit the purported benefits of electoral competition.
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