Making Rallies Great Again: The Effects of Presidential Campaign Rallies on Voter Behavior, 2008-2016

46 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2020 Last revised: 14 Feb 2022

See all articles by James M. Snyder

James M. Snyder

Harvard University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Hasin Yousaf

UNSW Business School

Date Written: October 2020

Abstract

Populism has surged around the world in recent decades. One campaign activity that may be especially important for populist leaders is holding large rallies to gain unmediated support from "the people." In this paper, we explore whether populist leaders are particularly effective in gaining support via their rallies. We do this by studying the effect of campaign rallies held by Donald Trump and other U.S. Presidential candidates since 2008. To measure the short-run causal impact of rallies, we exploit the fact that some respondents in the CCES were surveyed a few days before a rally, while others were surveyed a few days afterwards. We find that Trump's rallies produced a short-lived increase in his support over Clinton (especially among leaning Republicans), intention to vote (especially among strong Republicans), and individual campaign contributions for him. We do not find consistent, robust effects for other candidates. In terms of channels, we find that local media coverage of all candidates increased around their rallies, suggesting that the quantity of media coverage alone does not explain the findings.

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Suggested Citation

Snyder, James M. and Yousaf, Hasin, Making Rallies Great Again: The Effects of Presidential Campaign Rallies on Voter Behavior, 2008-2016 (October 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w28043, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3723280

James M. Snyder (Contact Author)

Harvard University ( email )

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Hasin Yousaf

UNSW Business School ( email )

UNSW Business School
High St
Sydney, NSW 2052
Australia

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