Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Gender differences in positive and negative campaigning

I am increasingly annoyed by political campaigns as they are less and less about political issues and more and more about personal issues. The negative campaigning is particularly irritating to me, as it usually brings nothing of substance and is based on either untrue or exaggerated facts. Can't we get back to discussions about platforms? In any case, it seems tat political strategists seem to think negative campaigning is effective in getting votes, and that is all they care about. But is that true?

Indeed, Vincenzo Galasso and Tommaso Nannicini had the incredible luck to be able to experiment on an important mayoral race in Milan, Italy. They had the privilege of contacting specific voter groups in varied ways with various content, all approved by a mayoral candidate who actually participated in putting together this material. Effectively, they designed for these potential voters a complete electoral campaign. Galasso and Nannicini then also asked them how they would vote before and after treatments at various points in the campaign. From this, they get incredibly rich data, from which they determine the following (among others). Negative campaigning gets men to the voting booth, and they tend to vote for that candidate. Women are no more likely to go vote, but vote for the other. In the end the impact of negative campaigning is negligible, and irritates everyone. So stop it.

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