The authors conducted a field experiment in Pernambuco, Brazil, to test whether voters punish politicians that are accused of malfeasance. The authors randomly sampled 3,200 voters two weeks prior to the 2016 municipal elections. A segment of respondents were randomly assigned to receive fliers with information about whether the incumbent mayor was in compliance with government laws and regulations. Other respondents received no information at all.
To understand how access to information influences ethnic voting, the authors implemented a field experiment during the 2015 National Assembly elections in Benin. Voters have poor information on these legislative races, and also vary in their shared ethnicity with the incumbent in their constituency. These factors allowed the authors to provide information to voters to examine how they updated their beliefs about the candidate, conditional on their shared ethnicity with the incumbent.
To test the ways in which politicians influence public opinion, the authors conduct two studies. The structures of the two studies are nearly identical. The authors partner with state legislators in a Midwestern state and identify contentious policy positions that they hold (support for tax increases or support for undocumented immigrants, for example). Next, they conduct interviews with a randomly selected sample of constituents to identify their opinions on these issues.
Brief 41: Investigating Unrevealed Biases in Ethnic Voting Behavior in Ugandan Public Opinion Surveys
To test the extent to which respondents conceal their true preferences, the author designs and implements a survey experiment in Uganda with 753 respondents. The author randomly sampled census enumeration areas. Then, surveyors recruited respondents from every fifth household in four directions from the center of the enumeration areas.
In the lead-up to the 2014 elections, Green and Vasudevan hired an Indian agency to script and record advertisements to discourage voting for vote-buying parties. The advertisements were skits in which actors discussed why vote-buying politicians were untrustworthy and unlikely to make good on their promises. The 60-second spots were recorded in Hindi and four regional languages (Kannada, Marathi, Oriya, and Telugu). The authors chose 60 AIR stations covering 665 ACs in ten states.
To carry out the intervention, six Cambodian districts were selected from within three provinces. Within each of the six districts, the partner NGO nominated two candidate villages, and a coin flip decided which would receive the intervention (treatment group) and which would be in the control. Prior to the intervention, researchers distributed 120 surveys to randomly selected villagers in each of the 12 treatment and control villages, and then returned to re-interview these same respondents a week after the intervention was carried out.
The total number of individuals who would not have voted in the absence of a telephone or in-person contact is the effect of the treatment on the treated. This quantity focuses only on those who who answer the door or phone when assigned such contact. Since households were randomly assigned to treatment — and since cluster-level randomization checks did not argue against randomization failure — Hansen and Bowers show how to use random assignment to generate a confidence interval for this total.
The treatment consisted of citizen exposure to information about the use of FISM funding for public goods that was collected by the audit agency in 2007. The audits revealed that mayors did not spend all the money they received from FISM, that they did not spend all of the money in poor areas, and that in average 30% of funds were spent in a corrupt manner. The researchers show that only 10% of voters had been aware of the existence of FISM prior to their intervention.