Misspecified politics and the recurrence of populism

We analyse political competition when the source of political conict stems from groups that have di¤erent misspecied stochastic models of how policies a¤ect outcomes. We focus on groups that di¤er in the simplicity of their model of the world; a “simple” group,that believes that only a subset of policy instruments a¤ect outcomes, competes with another group that believes a wider range of policy instruments matter. Whoever wins the election chooses that periods policies. Upon observing the policy outcomes, both groups update the weight they place on the di¤erent policy instruments, albeit within the connes of their model. We show that in all steady state equilibria the simple group is always in power with a strictly positive probability. Moreover, it always espouses policies that are more extreme compared to those of the other group, on all policy instruments it considers.

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