Event Exposure, Political Messages and Voting: Evidence from India
75 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2021 Last revised: 10 Aug 2023
Date Written: August 09, 2023
Is exposure to events changing voting behavior, or those who switch their votes are endogenously more exposed to events? Moreover, what role do political messages play in translating events into votes? This paper examines these questions in the context of the 2019 national election in India. As events, we consider deadly attacks on Indian soldiers in armed conflicts. We exploit the exogeneity in the home constituency of the deceased soldiers to identify how exposure to soldier deaths affects voting behavior causally. Using a difference-in-differences identification strategy, we find that in the home constituency of the deceased soldiers, the incumbent party’s vote share increased by 4.2 pp. Text analysis of the incumbent PM Modi’s speeches reveals that only deaths referred by him affect public opinion. Our findings emphasize the role of politicians and media in amplifying events, indicating that event exposures translate into votes when emphasized by influential figures.
Keywords: Event Exposure, Conflict, Voting, Leaders, Media, Issue Salience, India
JEL Classification: D72, D74, D91, P16, N45
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