The Department of Government
The Department of Government

Comparative Speaker Series- Cesi Cruz (Univ of British Columbia)

Making Policies Matter: Voter Responses to Campaign Promises

Mon, October 22, 2018 | BAT 5.108

12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

We elicit multidimensional policy platforms from political candidates in consecutive
mayoral elections in the Philippines and show that voters who are randomly informed
about these promises rationally update their beliefs about candidates, along both policy
and valence dimensions. Those who receive information about current campaign
promises are more likely to vote for candidates with policy promises closest to their
own preferences. Those informed about current and past campaign promises reward
incumbents who fulfilled their past promises, as they perceive them to be more honest
and competent. Voters with clientelist ties to candidates do not respond to information
on campaign promises. We estimate a structural model that allows us to disentangle
campaign information e ects on beliefs (through updating) and psychological e ects
on preferences (through making policy salient to voters). Both e ects are present in the
data. Counterfactual exercises also demonstrate that policy and valence play a significant
quantitative role in explaining vote shares. Finally, although these campaign promises
have a significant impact, a cost-benefit analysis reveals that vote buying is more cost effective
than information campaigns, establishing a rationale for why candidates in these
environments do not use them in practice.

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