Going Negative in Autocracy: A Field Experiment at the Moscow Mayoral Elections

25 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2020 Last revised: 2 Sep 2020

See all articles by Maxim Mironov

Maxim Mironov

IE Business School, IE University

Alexandra Petrachkova

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Department of Political Science

Date Written: October 29, 2019

Abstract

Modern autocracies today hold elections but employ a number of tactics to control election outcomes. In response to unfairness of elections, opposition may organize negative campaign to persuade the electorate to vote against a regime candidate. The goal of this paper is to measure the effectiveness of negative campaigning on the incumbent’s vote share. For the field experiment that we conducted during the 2013 Moscow mayoral election, we published a newspaper criticizing the incumbent mayor. We distributed approximately 130,000 copies near the entrances of 20 randomly selected metro stations during a month prior to the election date. We find that the incumbent mayor’s vote share was lower by 1.89 percentage points at the voting stations located close to the metro stations of the newspaper distribution. We also document heterogeneous effect of the newspaper distribution. In particular, the effect of weekend distribution is 2.4 times greater than workday distribution, evening distribution is approximately 2 times greater than morning distribution.

Keywords: Elections, Electoral Authoritarianism, Negative Campaign, Media, Voting Behavior

JEL Classification: D72, L82, P26

Suggested Citation

Mironov, Maxim and Petrachkova, Alexandra, Going Negative in Autocracy: A Field Experiment at the Moscow Mayoral Elections (October 29, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3563608 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3563608

Maxim Mironov (Contact Author)

IE Business School, IE University ( email )

Calle Maria de Molina 12, 4izda
Madrid, Madrid 28006
Spain

Alexandra Petrachkova

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Department of Political Science ( email )

Los Angeles, CA
United States

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