- The Credibility of Party Policy Rhetoric. Survey-experimental Evidence. Journal of Politics. Forthcoming. [ journal version ] [ preprint ]
This paper analyzes how a party’s policy statements affect voters’ perceptions of where the party stands on a given issue. I argue that voters do not take a party’s statements at face value because these messages can be a strategic tool to win elections. I have tested this argument with a survey experiment fielded in the United Kingdom that exposes respondents to Conservative and Labour Party statements on immigration and the National Health Service. I report evidence that popular statements tend to have a weaker effect on voter perceptions than unpopular ones. This finding suggests a paradox: the more a party needs to change its reputation in order to gain votes, the stronger the voters’ skepticism.
- Voter Discounting of Party Campaign Manifestos. An Analysis of Mainstream and Niche Parties in Western Europe, 1971-2011. Party Politics. Forthcoming. [ journal version ] [ preprint ]
This paper analyzes the conditions in which voters believe party platforms. I argue that voters find platforms that can help the party obtain more votes to be less informative about the party’s ideology. This hypothesis is tested with both mainstream and niche parties in Western Europe. I show that for mainstream parties, which have vote-seeking incentives to appear ideologically moderate, voters discount centrist manifestos. With respect to niche parties, which tend to lose support if they moderate, voters discount extreme platforms. These findings have implications for democratic representation, party competition and electoral volatility.
- Choices that Matter: When Party Behavior Reveals Preferences to Voters. With Albert Falco-Gimeno. Political Science Research and Methods. Forthcoming. [ preprint ]
This paper examines how a party’s decision to enter a coalition government affects voter perceptions of the party’s policy position. We argue that, for the decision to change voter beliefs, it must be at odds with voters’ prior opinions about the party. Specifically, the party must join a coalition that is not the one voters perceive as the ideologically closest option. Otherwise, the party’s action simply confirms voters’ pre-existing beliefs. Hence, whether or not joining a coalition alters voter attitudes depends on the type of alternative coalitions the party could enter. We test the hypothesis using three complementary empirical strategies: a cross-country analysis of party reputations in five coalition-prone European countries, individual panel data, and a quasi-experimental test. All three empirical tests provide support for our claim. This paper contributes to our understanding of voter information processing, coalition politics, and party competition..
- The Information Consequences of Party Leader Changes for Voter Perceptions of Party Positions. British Journal of Political Science. Forthcoming. Co-authored with Zeynep Somer-Topcu. [ preprint ] [ journal version ] [replication materials]
This paper claims that leader changes open a window of opportunity for parties to shape their policy reputation. We argue that the appointment of a new leader increases the credibility of party policy messages. As a result, voters are more willing to listen to party rhetoric and therefore develop perceptions about the party’s ideological position that are more in line with the party’s discourse. We provide empirical evidence based on mainstream parties in Western Europe between 1979 and 2012.
- Rooting Out Corruption or Rooting for Corruption? The Heterogeneous Electoral Consequences of Scandals. Political Science Research and Methods 4 (2): 379-397. 2016. With Pablo Barberá and Gonzalo Rivero. [journal pdf] [pre-print accepted version]
This paper addresses the question of why, even in consolidated democracies, corrupt incumbents are frequently re-elected by their constituents. While the literature tends to attribute tolerance for corruption to a lack of credible information about incumbent wrongdoing or to generalized voter cynicism, we highlight how voter responses depend on the economic externalities of corruption.
- And Yet It Moves: The Effect of Election Manifestos on Party Policy Images. Comparative Political Studies 47 (14): 1919-1944. 2014. [pdf] [Online Appendix]
Election campaigns are normatively expected to provide political parties with the opportunity to publicize their views on policy issues. This article analyzes whether the content of parties’ campaign manifestos actually influences voter perceptions of where parties stand ideologically. Focusing on Western European parties between 1971 and 2010, I show that the content of parties’ policy rhetoric does affect voter expectations. This paper thus offers a more reassuring conclusion about mass-elite linkages than previous studies.
- Projection Bias in the Survey Placement of Spanish Political Parties: Differences between National and Regional Parties. Special issue in South European Society and Politics 17 (3):519-531. 2012. With Elias Dinas. [pdf]. Reprinted in Sanchez-Cuenca and Dinas (eds). 2013. Voters and Parties in the Spanish Political Space. Routledge.[link]
This paper examines ex-post rationalization in how survey respondents place political parties on issue scales. Comparing Spanish national and regional parties, we uncover how differences in the structure of political competition across party system shapes the intensity of rationalization in survey-based measures of party positions.
WORK IN PROGRESS
- Accountability from Within: Politically Insulated Bureaucrats and Incumbent Rent-Seeking in Spanish Municipalities. (In progress)
- Do Federal and State Audits Increase Compliance with a Grant Program to Improve Municipal Infrastructure?. With Ana de la O and Fernando Martel. (In progress)
- Rouba Mas Faz? An Experimental Test of the Competence-Corruption Trade-off Hypothesis in Brazil, Spain and Sweden. With Jordi Muñoz and Peter Esaiasson. (In progress)
- Does Electing Women Reduce Corruption? A Regression Discontinuity Approach. With Miguel Pereira. (In progress)
- Exonerating Corrupt Politicians at The Polls. A Survey Experiment.(In progress)
- Believe It or Not? The Credibility of Campaign Promises. With Alexander Theodoridis. (In progress)
- Economic Integration and Mass Political Behavior. With Ignacio Jurado. (In progress)
- The Ideological Orientation of European and US Newspapers.. With Joshua Clinton. (In progress)