Voter Information Campaigns and Political Accountability: Cumulative Findings From a Preregistered Meta-Analysis of Coordinated Trials
Thad Dunning, et al.
Science Advances (03 Jul 2019): Vol. 5, no. 7
This book reports the results of a set of coordinated, large-scale field experiments on the relationship between informational interventions and political accountability. These studies, together with ancillaVoters may be unable to hold politicians to account if they lack basic information about their representatives’ performance. Civil society groups and international donors therefore advocate using voter information campaigns to improve democratic accountability. Yet, are these campaigns effective? Limited replication, measurement heterogeneity, and publication biases may undermine the reliability of published research. We implemented a new approach to cumulative learning, coordinating the design of seven randomized controlled trials to be fielded in six countries by independent research teams. Uncommon for multisite trials in the social sciences, we jointly preregistered a meta-analysis of results in advance of seeing the data. We find no evidence overall that typical, nonpartisan voter information campaigns shape voter behavior, although exploratory and subgroup analyses suggest conditions under which informational campaigns could be more effective. Such null estimated effects are too seldom published, yet they can be critical for scientific progress and cumulative, policy-relevant learning.ry experiments and analyses reported in these pages, were planned and executied over several years by thirty-one researchers as part of the inaugural set of studies in the Evidence in Governance and Politics (EGAP) network’s Metaketa Initiative. We present in this book the substantive findings from this first group of studies, dubbed Metaketa I. We also introduce the Initiative’s novel research model, which aims to foster better cumulative learning through the planned integration of field experiments. Each of the authors of the individual chapters has contributed centrally to the development of this Metaketa approach, as well as to this volume’s substantive findings.