Information Provision, Voter Coordination, and Electoral Accountability: Evidence from Mexican Social Networks
Eric Arias, Pablo E. Balán, Horacio Larreguy, John Marshall, and Pablo Querubín
American Political Science Review 113(2): 475-498.
How do social networks moderate the way political information influences electoral accountability? We propose a simple model in which incumbent malfeasance revelations can facilitate coordination around less malfeasant challenger parties in highly connected voter networks, even when voters update favorably about incumbent party malfeasance. We provide evidence from Mexico of this mechanism by leveraging a field experiment in a context where the provision of incumbent malfeasance information increased support for incumbent parties, despite voters continuing to believe that challengers were less malfeasant than incumbents. Combining this experiment with detailed family network data, we show that—consistent with the model—the increase in incumbent party vote share due to information provision was counteracted by coordination around less malfeasant challengers in precincts with greater network connectedness. Individual-level data further demonstrate that networks facilitated explicit and tacit coordination among voters. These findings suggest that networks can help voters coordinate around information to help remove poorly-performing politicians.