Positive Spillovers from Negative Campaigning

59 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2020

See all articles by Tommaso Nannicini

Tommaso Nannicini

Bocconi University - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Salvatore Nunnari

Bocconi University; Bocconi University - IGIER - Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research

Vincenzo Galasso

University of Lugano; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: 2020

Abstract

Negative advertising is frequent in electoral campaigns, despite its ambiguous effectiveness: negativity may reduce voters' evaluation of the targeted politician but have a backlash effect for the attacker. We study the effect of negative advertising in electoral races with more than two candidates with a large scale field experiment during an electoral campaign for mayor in Italy and a survey experiment in a fictitious mayoral campaign. In our field experiment, we find a strong, positive spillover effect on the third main candidate (neither the target nor the attacker). This effect is confirmed in our survey experiment, which creates a controlled environment with no ideological components nor strategic voting. The negative ad has no impact on the targeted incumbent, has a sizable backlash effect on the attacker, and largely benefits the idle candidate. The attacker is perceived as less cooperative, less likely to lead a successful government, and more ideologically extreme.

Keywords: electoral campaign, political advertisement, randomized controlled trial, field experiment, survey experiment

JEL Classification: D720, C900, M370

Suggested Citation

Nannicini, Tommaso and Nunnari, Salvatore and Galasso, Vincenzo, Positive Spillovers from Negative Campaigning (2020). CESifo Working Paper No. 8055, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3529011

Tommaso Nannicini

Bocconi University - Department of Economics ( email )

Via Gobbi 5
Milan, 20136
Italy

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Salvatore Nunnari

Bocconi University

Via Sarfatti, 25
Milan, MI 20136
Italy

Bocconi University - IGIER - Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, 20136
Italy

Vincenzo Galasso (Contact Author)

University of Lugano ( email )

Via Giuseppe Buffi 13
Lugano, TN 6900
Switzerland

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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