How the US Electoral Cycle Affects Elections Around the World
35 Pages Posted: 7 Jun 2017 Last revised: 1 Mar 2021
Date Written: June 5, 2017
We probe whether foreign elections held close to US ones feature more bias. We use a game to demonstrate that greater monitoring costs - due to US distractions - result in more cheating by foreign incumbents in equilibrium. Foreign incumbents, however, have no incentive to adjust their election cycle to match the US one. This suggests we can identify the relationship empirically. We proceed to develop a novel measure of monitoring. To that end, we scrape texts from Congress and the Presidency. We demonstrate that there is less attention to foreign elections when American polls are close. Next, we evaluate empirically the equilibrium prediction of more biased elections abroad as a result of less attention. We examine the universe of all 4,200 contests since 1945. We use an index of bias to show the prediction holds - for Presidential, and not midterm elections. We conclude that international pressure helps keep cheating incumbents in check.
Keywords: Sanctions, Democratization, U.S. foreign policy, Congress, Presidency, Political Business Cycles
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation