Information Consumption and Strategic Voting: Evidence from Brazil
26 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2017
Date Written: February 23, 2017
In a seminal work about strategic voting, Duverger suggested that single-ballot electoral systems generate incentives for voters to behave strategically, which ultimately might lead to two-party systems. Dual-ballot electoral systems, in turn, allow voters to behave sincerely, which might favors multi-party systems. Even though several works have found results consistent with strategic voting behavior, some findings also suggest that not all voters behave the same way. This leads to the question on who exactly are the voters behaving strategically and, more importantly, why some voters do not behave this way. This paper investigates whether voters with different access to information behave differently when choosing their candidates in Brazilian mayoral elections. Following the theoretical literature, we predict that voters with lower availability of information are more likely to behave sincerely while voters with a higher information level are more likely to behave in a strategic way. We test this prediction exploiting an exogenous variation in Brazilian electoral rules and using a unique database with information disaggregated at the polling station level, that allow us to identify votes and characteristics of small groups of voters. Our results show that strategic behaviour indeed varies greatly depending on voters access to information. We also show that both demand for information (measured by voters’ level of education) and supply of information (measured by media availability at municipalities) are self-enforcing mechanisms for strategic voting. Therefore, whether a voter behaves strategically or not depends on both her ability to gather information and the availability of such information in her municipality.
Keywords: Political Economy, Strategic Voting, Duverger's Law
JEL Classification: P16
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation