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How Do Voters Respond to Information? Evidence from a Randomized Campaign

Author

Listed:
  • Chad Kendall
  • Tommaso Nannicini
  • Francesco Trebbi

Abstract

Rational 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Chad Kendall & Tommaso Nannicini & Francesco Trebbi, 2013. "How Do Voters Respond to Information? Evidence from a Randomized Campaign," NBER Working Papers 18986, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18986
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    Cited by:

    1. Magnus Carlsson & Gordon B. Dahl & Dan-Olof Rooth, 2015. "Do Politicians Change Public Attitudes?," NBER Working Papers 21062, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Yuichiro Kamada Jr. & Fuhito Kojima Jr., 2014. "Voter Preferences, Polarization, and Electoral Policies," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 203-236, November.
    3. Christian Ochsner & Felix Rösel, 2017. "Activated History - The Case of the Turkish Sieges of Vienna," CESifo Working Paper Series 6586, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Borge, Lars-Erik & Parmer, Pernille & Torvik, Ragnar, 2015. "Local natural resource curse?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 101-114.
    5. 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.
    6. Cesi Cruz & Philip Keefer & Julien Labonne, 2016. "Incumbent Advantage, Voter Information and Vote Buying," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 7730, Inter-American Development Bank.
    7. Michaeli, Moti & Spiro, Daniel, 2013. "The Distribution of Individual Conformity under Social Pressure across Societies," Memorandum 12/2014, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
    8. Cesi Cruz & Philip Keefer & Julien Labonne, 2016. "Incumbent Advantage, Voter Information and Vote Buying," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 94877, Inter-American Development Bank.
    9. Drago, Francesco & Galbiati, Roberto & Sobbrio, Francesco, 2017. "The Political Cost of Being Soft on Crime: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 12097, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Vincenzo Galasso & Tommaso Nannicini, 2016. "Persuasion and Gender: Experimental Evidence from Two Political Campaigns," CESifo Working Paper Series 5868, CESifo Group Munich.
    11. Srinivasan, Sunderasan, 2014. "Economic populism, partial deregulation of transport fuels and electoral outcomes in India," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 465-475.
    12. Alan Gerber & Mitchell Hoffman & John Morgan & Collin Raymond, 2017. "One in a Million: Field Experiments on Perceived Closeness of the Election and Voter Turnout," NBER Working Papers 23071, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Laurent Bouton & Micael Castanheira & Allan Drazen, 2018. "A Theory of Small Campaign Contributions," NBER Working Papers 24413, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Ceren Baysan, 2017. "Can More Information Lead to More Voter Polarization? Experimental Evidence from Turkey," 2017 Papers pba1551, Job Market Papers.
    15. repec:eee:jetheo:v:174:y:2018:i:c:p:300-323 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Jörg L. Spenkuch & David Toniatti, 2016. "Political Advertising and Election Outcomes," CESifo Working Paper Series 5780, CESifo Group Munich.
    17. Garmann, Sebastian, 2016. "Concurrent elections and turnout: Causal estimates from a German quasi-experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 126(PA), pages 167-178.
    18. Yann Algan & Quoc-Anh Do & Nicolò Dalvit & Alexis Le Chapelain & Yves Zenou, 2015. "How Social Networks Shape Our Beliefs: A Natural Experiment among Future French Politicians," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/78vacv4udu9, Sciences Po.
    19. Daniel Ortega & Carlos Scartascini, 2015. "Don't Blame the Messenger: A Field Experiment on Delivery Methods for Increasing Tax Compliance," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 91741, Inter-American Development Bank.
    20. Lukić Tamara & Penjišević Ivana & Đerčan Bojan & Đurđev Branislav & Živković Milka Bubalo & Armenski Tanja, 2014. "Politics in the Balkan countryside: case study in Serbia," Eastern European Countryside, Sciendo, vol. 20(1), pages 99-124, December.
    21. Chen, Daniel L. & Michaeli, Moti & Spiro, Daniel, 2016. "Ideological Perfectionism," IAST Working Papers 16-47, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST).
    22. Daniel Ortega & Carlos Scartascini, 2015. "Don't Blame the Messenger: A Field Experiment on Delivery Methods for Increasing Tax Compliance," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 7284, Inter-American Development Bank.
    23. Michaeli, Moti & Spiro, Daniel, 2015. "Norm conformity across societies," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 51-65.
    24. Catalina Tejada & Eliana Ferrara & Henrik Kleven & Florian Blum & Oriana Bandiera & Michel Azulai, 2015. "State Effectiveness, Growth, and Development," Working Papers id:6668, eSocialSciences.

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    JEL classification:

    • H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H7 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations

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