Candidate Traits in Elections: When Good News for Selection is Bad News for Accountability


We analyze a two-election political agency model with moral hazard and adverse selection in which candidates have observable traits such as job qualifications that help voters to imperfectly predict politicians' types. Candidate's traits can help voters select good types of politicians. However, selecting candidates with good traits can reduce accountability because the voter cannot commit to throw out politicians with good traits who produce bad outcomes. This result explains when and why voters may sometimes select candidates who they believe are less likely to be competent.

In Political Science Research and Methods