Peer Reviewed Publications
Corruption Perceptions, Opposition Parties, and Reelecting Incumbents in Latin America
Emily Elia and Leslie A. Schwindt-Bayer
Forthcoming at Electoral Studies
In Latin America, corruption often fails to bring down incumbents at the ballot box. When do voters jump ship? We argue that voters are more likely not to reelect an incumbent with poor corruption performance when they have an ideologically viable alternative. We test this with AmericasBarometer survey data for eighteen Latin American countries from 2008-2014. We find that respondents who perceive the incumbent government as failing to combat corruption and are ideologically close to the incumbent are more likely to intend to vote against the incumbent if they are ideologically close to an opposition alternative. We then corroborate these findings with a survey experiment in Mexico. Mexican voters have a higher likelihood of abandoning an ideologically similar but corrupt incumbent governor when an ideologically proximate opposition party is available. We conclude that the existence of an ideologically viable alternative increases voters’ probability of engaging in corruption voting against incumbents.
Can The Fairer Sex Save The Day? Voting for Women After Corruption Scandals
Invited to Revise & Resubmit at Political Behavior
In an election subsequent to a corruption scandal, are voters more likely to continue their support of the scandalized political party when that party puts forth female candidates instead of male candidates? Due to the gender stereotypes, women are often seen as less corrupt than men. In experimental and survey settings, respondents frequently report that they anticipate women public officials to be better at combatting corruption and less likely to be involved in corrupt behavior than men. Recent studies have begun to examine how political parties may use this stereotype to their advantage by strategically running more women candidates in elections when corruption is salient. By presenting voters with female candidates, parties hope to signal cleaner, more honest governance. Previous work shows that political parties do increase the number of female candidates on their party lists when corruption perceptions are high amongst the electorate, but no study has yet tested if voters actually respond more positively to female candidates in a post-scandal environment when a party’s corrupt behavior is known. Is this feminization strategy effective? With an original survey experiment, this study tests if female candidates are preferred by voters after a corruption scandal.
Who Fights Corruption? Anticorruption Bill Proposals in the Argentine Chamber of Deputies
When will elites focus on anticorruption efforts, and which elites are most likely to do so? Most if not all voters prefer less corruption to more corruption, yet only some politicians and parties publicly prioritize combatting corruption in their political agendas. How elected officials actually fight corruption remains an understudied area, and few studies about legislative behavior focus on anticorruption policies. This paper explores how elites engage with anticorruption efforts through a case study of Argentine legislators. I posit that pursuing anticorruption policies can be risky for legislators, especially if they lack the proper image to convincingly combat corruption in the eyes of voters, so engagement with such policies will be strategic and reactionary with the goal of generating electoral gains. Using text analysis of bill proposal data from the Argentine Chamber of Deputies combined with qualitative data from elite interviews conducted during fieldwork in Buenos Aires, I test this theory by examining which legislators are most likely to propose anticorruption bills and when these bills tend to emerge in the Chamber. Studying the ways in which elites engage with anticorruption efforts is important for understanding how legislative behavior can impact corruption, and it can also shed light on how these elite efforts may influence voter behavior and perceptions of legislative effectiveness.
Corruption, Partisanship, and Voting: A Survey Experiment during the Brazilian Presidential Election
Emily Elia, Leslie A. Schwindt-Bayer, and Sofia B. Vera
Previous research shows that corruption can reduce a voter’s willingness to vote for an incumbent and that positive partisanship can moderate that relationship. But it is not yet known how corruption affects voting among nonpartisans and negative partisans or how corruption affects voting when voters have varying partisan attitudes toward other candidates’ parties in a race. Using a survey experiment fielded in Brazil between the first and second rounds of the 2022 presidential elections, we examine how corruption affects vote intention in the context of different kinds of partisanship—positive partisanship, negative partisanship, and nonpartisanship. We find no effect of corruption on voting in the second round of the Brazilian 2022 election and no different effects for the three types of partisans. Through exploratory analyses, we provide evidence that this may have resulted from the election taking place in a highly polarized environment where corruption perceptions and partisanship were highly intertwined. Corruption perceptions of the candidates may have been so tightly tied to feelings of positive and negative partisanship with the PT and PL that they were immovable with a treatment that reminded them of corruption allegations against a candidate just prior to the second round. Future research on corruption, partisanship, and voting may need to focus on non-polarized contexts instead.
Drafts of working papers available upon request.
Projects in Progress
Corrupt but Competent: The Impact of Elite Performance on Corruption Voting in Latin America