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The Political Impact of the Internet on US Presidential Elections

Author

Listed:
  • Valentino Larcinese
  • Luke Miner

Abstract

What are the political consequences of the diffusion of broadband internet? We address this question by studying the 2008 US presidential election, the first political campaign where the internet played a key role. Drawing on data from the FEC and the FCC, we provide robust evidence that internet penetration in US counties is associated with an increase in turnout, an increase in campaign contributions to the Democrats and an increase in the share of Democratic vote. We then propose an IV strategy to deal with potential endogeneity concerns: we exploit geographic discontinuities along state borders with different right-of-way laws, which constitute the main determinant of the cost of building new infrastructure. IV estimates confirm a positive impact of broadband diffusion on turnout, while the pro-Democratic Party effect of the internet appears to be less robust.

Suggested Citation

  • Valentino Larcinese & Luke Miner, 2017. "The Political Impact of the Internet on US Presidential Elections," STICERD - Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers Series 63, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:stieop:63
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Leopoldo Fergusson & Carlos Molina, 2020. "Facebook Causes Protests," HiCN Working Papers 323, Households in Conflict Network.
    2. Thomas Fujiwara & Karsten Müller & Carlo Schwarz, 2021. "The Effect of Social Media on Elections: Evidence from the United States," NBER Working Papers 28849, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Thomas Fujiwara & Karsten Müller & Carlo Schwarz, 2021. "The Effect of Social Media on Elections: Evidence from the United States," NBER Working Papers 28849, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Poy, Samuele & Schüller, Simone, 2020. "Internet and voting in the social media era: Evidence from a local broadband policy," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(1).
    5. Schaub, Max & Morisi, Davide, 2020. "Voter mobilisation in the echo chamber: Broadband internet and the rise of populism in Europe," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, vol. 59(4), pages 752-773.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    internet diffusion; political economy of the media; United States elections; turnout; campaign contributions;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software

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