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Negative Advertising and Political Competition

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  • Amit Gandhi
  • Daniela Iorio
  • Carly Urban

Abstract

Why is negative advertising such a prominent feature of competition in the US political market? We hypothesize that two-candidate races provide stronger incentives for going negative relative to non-duopoly contests: when the number of competitors is greater than two, airing negative ads creates positive externalities for opponents that are not the object of the attack. To investigate the empirical relevance of the fewness of competitors in explaining the volume of negative advertising, we exploit variation in the number of entrants running for US non-presidential primaries from 2000 through 2008. Duopolies are over twice as likely to air a negative ad when compared to non-duopolies, and the tendency for negative advertising decreases in the number of competitors. The estimates are robust to various specification checks and the inclusion of potential confounding factors at the race, candidate, and advertisement levels. (JEL D72, D79, L10, L19)

Suggested Citation

  • Amit Gandhi & Daniela Iorio & Carly Urban, 2016. "Negative Advertising and Political Competition," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(3), pages 433-477.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jleorg:v:32:y:2016:i:3:p:433-477.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/jleo/ewv028
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Prat, Andrea & Puglisi, Riccardo & Snyder, James M., 2010. "Is Private Campaign Finance a Good Thing? Estimates of the Potential Informational Benefits," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 5(3), pages 291-318, December.
    2. Polborn, Mattias K. & David T., Yi, 2006. "Informative Positive and Negative Campaigning," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 1(4), pages 351-371, October.
    3. Andrea Galeotti & Andrea Mattozzi, 2011. ""Personal Influence": Social Context and Political Competition," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 307-327, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Enrico Guarini, 2016. "The day after: newly-elected politicians and the use of accounting information," Public Money & Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(7), pages 499-506, November.
    2. Vincenzo Galasso & Tommaso Nannicini & Salvatore Nunnari, 2020. "Positive Spillovers from Negative Campaigning," CESifo Working Paper Series 8055, CESifo.
    3. Caterina Gennaioli, 2010. "Go Divisive or Not? How Political Campaigns Affect Turnout," CESifo Working Paper Series 3298, CESifo.
    4. Bernhardt, Dan & Ghosh, Meenakshi, 2020. "Positive and negative campaigning in primary and general elections," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 98-104.
    5. Galasso, Vincenzo & Nannicini, Tommaso & Nunnari, Salvatore, 2020. "Positive Spillovers from Negative Campaigning," CEPR Discussion Papers 14312, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Danilo P. Souza & Marcos Y. Nakaguma, 2017. "Determinants and Effects of Negative Advertising in Politics," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2017_25, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP).
    7. Danilo P. Souza & Marcos Y. Nakaguma, 2018. "Negative advertising and electoral rules: an empirical evaluation of the Brazilian case," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2018_10, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP).

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    JEL classification:

    • H0 - Public Economics - - General

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