In many political environments, individuals or groups compete to have their
preferred spatial policies enacted by exerting costly up-front effort. Moreover, that effort
both productive or unproductive; examples include valence competition in elections (e.g. Wiseman 2006,
Meirowitz 2008, Ashworth and Bueno de Mesquita 2009), expenditures in
lobbying contests (Meirowitz and Jordan 2012), and productive investments in
quality (Lax and Cameron 2007, Hirsch and Shotts 2015). Such "policy contests''
have the distinctive feature that the participants care not only about whether their desired policy is chosen (e.g. Baye, Kovenock, and de Vries 1993), but also which policy is chosen if theirs is not.
Because policy contests typically exhibit mixed strategy equilibria, previous analyses have
gained tractability by assuming sequential movers (Wiseman 2006, Lax and
Cameron 2007), a binary policy space (Meirowitz 2008), or sequentially
separate choices of policy and effort (Ashworth and Bueno de Mesquita 2009).
We provide a unified model for analyzing simultaneous-move all-pay
policy contests with both productive or unproductive
effort. We characterize equilibria,
and analyze how both ideological
extremism and the cost of effort affects equilibrium effort, spatial
outcomes, and the pattern of competition. Our analysis also illustrates how considering the simultaneous choice of
policy and effort actually simplifies the equilibrium analysis, and generates new
insights about the endogenous relationship between effort and spatial policy outcomes.