Do Brokers Know Their Voters? A Test of Guessability in India

The Journal of Politics, Forthcoming

Schneider, Mark. 2014. “Does Clientelism Work: A Test of Guessability in India.” Center for Advanced Study of India Working Paper

36 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2017

Date Written: December 15, 2016

Abstract

Theories of clientelism broadly depend on the untested assumption that brokers possess fine-grained information on voters’ political preferences prior to elections, and often can monitor their votes. As the first direct test of this assumption in a competitive democracy, I develop a measure, guessability, which measures the ability of local brokers to identify the partisan preferences of voters from their local area. I apply this method to elected village politicians in rural India who often perform brokerage functions. I find that these local leaders perform well at identifying the partisan preferences of co-partisans, but perform no better than a low-information benchmark that captures the level of guessability that outsiders can plausibly achieve with respect to non-core voters. This suggests that an electoral strategy rooted in quid-pro-quo exchange is extremely inefficient in rural India where the clientelism is believed to be feasible, with implications for prominent theories applied to other settings.

Keywords: clientelism, brokers, India, vote buyung

Suggested Citation

Schneider, Mark, Do Brokers Know Their Voters? A Test of Guessability in India (December 15, 2016). The Journal of Politics, Forthcoming; Schneider, Mark. 2014. “Does Clientelism Work: A Test of Guessability in India.” Center for Advanced Study of India Working Paper . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3007407 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3007407

Mark Schneider (Contact Author)

Pitzer College ( email )

1050 North Mills Avenue
Claremont, CA 91711
United States

HOME PAGE: http://markaschneider.com

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