Do Voters in Local Elections Prefer Campaign Promises About Attributable Policies?
66 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2021 Last revised: 26 May 2022
Date Written: March 15, 2021
It is widely accepted that policy attribution increases retrospective accountability. We extend this research by outlining the theoretical importance of policy attribution in electoral selection and investigating whether voters select candidates based on campaign promises for attributable policy outcomes. Selecting candidates on attributable campaign promises can increase political responsiveness and lower pandering, representing an overlooked channel that can increase accountability. We introduce novel measures of attribution and conduct comparative conjoint experiments in representative surveys in Accra, Ghana, and New Delhi, India. We find that in both settings the quality of attribution is high and policy promises are the strongest determinant of vote choice. Yet, we find no evidence that voters prefer attributable campaign promises. Instead, voters are just as likely to select candidates based on campaign promises for policies they do not attribute to them. Our findings have important implications for the operation of accountability, and for justifications of decentralization.
Keywords: Accountability, Attribution, Ghana, India, Candidate Choice conjoint experiments
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation