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Brazilian Political Science Review

versão On-line ISSN 1981-3821


SPADA, Paolo  e  GUIMARAES, Feliciano de Sá. Investigating elite behavior through field experiment in Brazil: do candidates answer more to core or swing voters?. Bras. Political Sci. Rev. [online]. 2013, vol.7, n.1, pp.56-73. ISSN 1981-3821.

This paper explores recent advances in experimental methodology to analyze elite behavior. Using an email experiment conducted in the context of the Brazilian 2008 municipal elections, we studied whether candidates target "swing" or "core" voters during campaigns. Candidates from all parties - 1,000 candidates in all - were contacted by randomly generated citizens who identified themselves as either core or swing voters. Additionally, we randomized senders' past voting behavior and their gender. To identify the baseline answer rate, we employed a placebo treatment with no reference to the elections. Our results show that Brazilian candidates target any sender as long as she identifies herself as a potential voter. Within this general finding, models with city-specific fixed effects indicate that Brazilian politicians tend to target core voters. The paper contributes to the general experimental literature by providing an easily replicable design that can test the behavior of elite interaction with the public. At the same time, the paper extends the literature on core versus swing voters by providing an empirical test that can shed light on the effects of a specific political environment (type of election, voting rule, and party structure), and how it affects the relationship between candidates and voters during elections.

Palavras-chave : Experimental analysis; Electoral Studies; Urban Politics; Methodology.

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