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Ulric B. and Evelyn L. Bray Social Sciences Seminar

Tuesday, April 30, 2024
4:00pm to 5:00pm
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Baxter B125
Accountability under Polarization
Horacio Larreguy, Associate Professor of Economics and Political Science, Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM),

Abstract: Political polarization can negatively impact electoral accountability by influencing how citizens perceive and process incumbent performance information. We study how such information affects voting behavior in a polarized environment, and how this varies when additionally treating citizens with a debiasing nudge to incorporate counter-attitudinal information. In particular, we experimentally evaluate the electoral effects of a local CSO's Facebook ad campaign providing citizens with benchmarked information about COVID-19 cases and deaths in 500 Mexican municipalities in the run-up to the 2021 elections. On its own, the information had a backfiring effect, increasing (reducing) the vote share received by the local incumbent party with relatively high (low) levels of COVID-19 cases and deaths. These effects are driven by areas with high past vote share for the incumbent, higher shares of citizens with communal values, and behavior indicative of more-stressed citizens. The randomly assigned debiasing nudge, however, reversed the backfiring: voters electorally rewarded (punished) incumbents with relatively low (high) levels of COVID-19 cases and deaths. Our findings demonstrate how biases in information processing can undermine electoral accountability in polarized contexts and document the potential for nudges to restore electoral accountability.

For more information, please contact Barbara Estrada by phone at 626-395-4083 or by email at [email protected].