Political Stigmatization and Preference Falsification: Theory and Observational Evidence
69 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2022 Last revised: 28 Mar 2023
Date Written: February 1, 2022
Do political preferences translate into behavior? I argue that when individuals support a stigmatized party, they have an incentive to hide that support. I start with providing a social-norms based definition of political stigmatization. Then, I show observational evidence of stigmatization leading to the falsification of political preferences. I study a Spanish region where voting was public in one election. Qualitative evidence shows that, as a consequence, voters felt that their vote could be observed. Triple differences models show that this observability decreased voting for PP, a stigmatized party in the country. Effect heterogeneity is in line with the preference falsification argument. At the individual level, supporters of PP make more efforts to keep their vote choice secret. Those who make such efforts also show more discomfort answering political surveys. The results highlight social norms as predictors of political behavior and underline the electoral consequences of changing voting procedures.
Keywords: Social norms, preference falsification, mainstream parties, stigmatization, democratic norms, Spain
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