Mobilizing Opposition Voters Under Electoral Authoritarianism: A Field Experiment in Russia
31 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2018 Last revised: 15 Jan 2019
Date Written: Dec 15, 2018
Under electoral authoritarianism, the opposition's victory at the polls often precipitates regime change. Yet, opposition parties persistently find it difficult to mobilize their supporters. In this study, we examine the effectiveness of information campaigns administered as part of a cluster randomized experiment by an opposition candidate in Russia's 2016 parliamentary election. In a Moscow electoral district, the campaign distributed 240,000 fliers to 75\% of the district's households. The treatments primed the closeness of the election in that district and, separately, sought to shame opposition supporters into voting. Outcomes were measured at precinct level. We find that the information campaigns failed to increase turnout or support for the candidate and her party. This finding casts doubt on the ability of opposition campaigns to mobilize voters via these widely used informational interventions in electoral autocracies.
Keywords: Turnout, Autocracy, GOTV, Mobilization
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