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Positive Spillovers from Negative Campaigning

Author

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  • Galasso, Vincenzo
  • Nannicini, Tommaso
  • Nunnari, Salvatore

Abstract

Negative advertising is frequent in electoral campaigns, despite its ambiguous effectiveness: negativity may reduce voters' evaluation of the targeted politician but have a backlash effect for the attacker. We study the effect of negative advertising in electoral races with more than two candidates with a large scale field experiment during an electoral campaign for mayor in Italy and a survey experiment in a fictitious mayoral campaign. In our field experiment, we find a strong, positive spillover effect on the third main candidate (neither the target nor the attacker). This effect is confirmed in our survey experiment, which creates a controlled environment with no ideological components nor strategic voting. The negative ad has no impact on the targeted incumbent, has a sizable backlash effect on the attacker, and largely benefits the idle candidate. The attacker is perceived as less cooperative, less likely to lead a successful government, and more ideologically extreme.

Suggested Citation

  • Galasso, Vincenzo & Nannicini, Tommaso & Nunnari, Salvatore, 2020. "Positive Spillovers from Negative Campaigning," CEPR Discussion Papers 14312, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:14312
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Electoral Campaign; field experiment; Political Advertisement; randomized controlled trial; Survey Experiment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • M37 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Marketing and Advertising - - - Advertising

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