Closing the Gap: Information and Mass Support in a Dominant Party Regime
Melina Platas and Pia Raffler
Forthcoming in the Journal of Politics
What role does information play in shaping mass support in dominate party settings? We conduct a field experiment during the 2016 Ugandan parliamentary elections that provides voters with information about candidates from all competing political parties. Specifically, we produce and screen video-recorded candidate interviews in randomly selected villages just prior to the election. Voters have lower baseline knowledge about opposition candidates compared to ruling party candidates. We find that the video screening reduced this knowledge gap and caused voters to update more positively about the opposition. Further, those who watched the videos were less likely to vote for ruling party candidates, and those initially leaning toward ruling party candidates were more likely to vote for the opposition. These findings suggest that information asymmetries play a role in sustaining mass support for ruling parties in dominant party settings, and that reducing them may strengthen electoral competition.