How Do Voters Respond to Information? Evidence from a Randomized Campaign
AbstractRational voters update their subjective beliefs about candidates’ attributes with the arrival of information, and subsequently base their votes on these beliefs. Information accrual is, however, endogenous to voters’ types and difficult to identify in observational studies. In a large scale randomized trial conducted during an actual mayoral campaign in Italy, we expose different areas of the polity to controlled informational treatments about the valence and ideology of the incumbent through verifiable informative messages sent by the incumbent reelection campaign. Our treatments affect both actual vote shares at the precinct level and vote declarations at the individual level. We explicitly investigate the process of belief updating by comparing the elicited priors and posteriors of voters, finding heterogeneous responses to information. Based on the elicited beliefs, we are able to structurally assess the relative weights voters place upon a candidate’s valence and ideology. We find that both valence and ideological messages affect the first and second moments of the belief distribution, but only campaigning on valence brings more votes to the incumbent. With respect to ideology, cross-learning occurs, as voters who receive information about the incumbent also update their beliefs about the opponent. Finally, we illustrate how to perform counterfactual campaigns based upon the structural model.
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Date of creation: Apr 2013
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- Chad Kendall & Tommaso Nannicini & Francesco Trebbi, 2013. "How Do Voters Respond to Information? Evidence from a Randomized Campaign," Working Papers 486, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
- Kendall, Chad & Nannicini, Tommaso & Trebbi, Francesco, 2013. "How Do Voters Respond to Information? Evidence from a Randomized Campaign," IZA Discussion Papers 7340, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government
- H7 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2013-05-05 (All new papers)
- NEP-EXP-2013-05-05 (Experimental Economics)
- NEP-POL-2013-05-05 (Positive Political Economics)
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