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Targeted advertising and voter turnout: An experimental study of the 2000 presidential election

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  • Joshua Clinton
  • John Lapinski

Abstract

Scholars disagree whether negative advertising demobilizes or stimulates the electorate. We use an experiment with over 10,200 eligible voters to evaluate the two leading hypotheses of negative political advertising. We extend the analysis to examine whether advertising differentially impacts the turnout of voter subpopulations depending on the advertisement's message. In the short term, we find no evidence that exposure to negative advertisements decreases turnout and little that suggests it increases turnout. Any effect appears to depend upon the message of the advertisement and the characteristics of the viewer. In the long term, we find little evidence that the information contained in the treatment groups' advertisements is sufficient to systematically alter turnout.

Suggested Citation

  • Joshua Clinton & John Lapinski, 2004. "Targeted advertising and voter turnout: An experimental study of the 2000 presidential election," Natural Field Experiments 00226, The Field Experiments Website.
  • Handle: RePEc:feb:natura:00226
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    1. Ansolabehere, Stephen D. & Iyengar, Shanto & Simon, Adam, 1999. "Replicating Experiments Using Aggregate and Survey Data: The Case of Negative Advertising and Turnout," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 93(4), pages 901-909, December.
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    3. Gerber, Alan S. & Green, Donald P., 2000. "The Effects of Canvassing, Telephone Calls, and Direct Mail on Voter Turnout: A Field Experiment," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 94(3), pages 653-663, September.
    4. Wattenberg, Martin P. & Brians, Craig Leonard, 1999. "Negative Campaign Advertising: Demobilizer or Mobilizer?," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 93(4), pages 891-899, December.
    5. Jeffrey A. Dubin & Douglas Rivers, 1989. "Selection Bias in Linear Regression, Logit and Probit Models," Sociological Methods & Research, , vol. 18(2-3), pages 360-390, November.
    6. Krosnick, Jon A. & Kinder, Donald R., 1990. "Altering the Foundations of Support for the President Through Priming," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 84(2), pages 497-512, June.
    7. King, Gary & Honaker, James & Joseph, Anne & Scheve, Kenneth, 2001. "Analyzing Incomplete Political Science Data: An Alternative Algorithm for Multiple Imputation," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 95(1), pages 49-69, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Galasso, Vincenzo & Nannicini, Tommaso, 2013. "Men Vote in Mars, Women Vote in Venus: A Survey Experiment in the Field," CEPR Discussion Papers 9547, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Vincenzo Galasso & Tommaso Nannicini, 2016. "Persuasion and Gender: Experimental Evidence from Two Political Campaigns," CESifo Working Paper Series 5868, CESifo.
    3. Niam Yaraghi & Darrell M West & Ram D Gopal & Ram Ramesh, 2020. "(How) did attack advertisements increase Affordable Care Act enrollments?," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 15(2), pages 1-20, February.
    4. Vincenzo Galasso & Tommaso Nannicini & Salvatore Nunnari, 2020. "Positive Spillovers from Negative Campaigning," Working Papers 664, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    5. Enrique García-Viñuela & Ignacio Jurado & Pedro Riera, 2018. "The effect of valence and ideology in campaign conversion: panel evidence from three Spanish general elections," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 175(1), pages 155-179, April.

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