An Experiment in Candidate Selection

62 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2019

See all articles by Katherine Casey

Katherine Casey

Stanford Graduate School of Business

Abou Bakarr Kamara

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - The International Growth Centre

Niccoló Meriggi

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - The International Growth Centre

Date Written: August 2019

Abstract

Are ordinary citizens or political party leaders better positioned to select candidates? While the direct vote primary system in the United States lets citizens choose, it is exceptional, as the vast majority of democracies rely instead on party officials to appoint or nominate candidates. Theoretically, the consequences of these distinct design choices on the selectivity of the overall electoral system are unclear: while party leaders may be better informed about candidate qualifications, they may value traits—like party loyalty or willingness to pay for the nomination—at odds with identifying the best performer. To make progress on this question, we partnered with both major political parties in Sierra Leone to experimentally vary how much say voters, as opposed to party officials, have in selecting Parliamentary candidates. We find evidence that more democratic selection procedures increase the likelihood that parties select the candidate most preferred by voters, favor candidates with stronger records of local public goods provision, and alter the allocation of payments from potential candidates to parties.

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Suggested Citation

Casey, Katherine and Kamara, Abou Bakarr and Meriggi, Niccoló, An Experiment in Candidate Selection (August 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w26160. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3439170

Katherine Casey (Contact Author)

Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )

655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States

Abou Bakarr Kamara

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - The International Growth Centre ( email )

32 Lincoln’s Inn Fields
Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Niccoló Meriggi

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - The International Growth Centre ( email )

32 Lincoln’s Inn Fields
Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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