Formal models of party competition typically assume that voters’ policy preferences are exogenously given. However, many political scientists find this assumption implausible. Parties and political elites can have a substantial influence on citizens political preferences. Two particular mechanisms stand out. First, some voters might be persuaded by a party’s position-taking and adjust their policy preferences accordingly. Second, some voters might project a party’s position closer to their own policy preference than other voters. In this paper we study a party competition in the presence of persuasion and projection effects. We conceptualize the two mechanisms, and derive conditions under which we expect a different outcomes compared to the standard model. Or results indicate that modeling persuasion and projection is crucial in understanding the platform locations in electoral democracies.

Parties’ strategies differ if they approach an electorate in which a share of the voters has endogenous policy-preferences.