Broadband Internet and Political Behavior: Evidence from the United States

57 Pages Posted: 13 Nov 2013 Last revised: 4 Dec 2013

Date Written: November 30, 2013

Abstract

This paper examines the effect of the introduction of broadband Internet on voting and campaign donations in the 2000s. To identify the effect of broadband, I use an instrumental variable strategy based on geographic terrain attributes which affected the cost of building cable infrastructure. I find that broadband has led to a large increase in voter turnout in presidential elections, as well as an increase in the total amount donated to political campaigns. Consistent with the hypothesis that Democrats have a stronger online presence, I also find a large effect on Democratic vote share in presidential elections. Evidence suggests the existence of both direct and indirect channels for the broadband effect. In particular, I find that broadband availability is associated with greater political knowledge, an increase in online (but not offline) donations, and the promotion of liberal values.

Keywords: broadband, Internet, voting, American politics, campaign contributions, persuasion, media

JEL Classification: D72, L86

Suggested Citation

Jaber, Ahmed, Broadband Internet and Political Behavior: Evidence from the United States (November 30, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2353549 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2353549

Ahmed Jaber (Contact Author)

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

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