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.