Skip to main content

Political Science and Political Economy Research Seminar

Accountability under political polarization

Alberto Simpser (Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México)

Tuesday 25 January 2022 14:00 - 15:30

Many of our seminars and public events this year will continue as in person or as hybrid (online and in person) events. Please check our website listings and Twitter feed @STICERD_LSE for updates.

Unless otherwise specified, in-person seminars are open to the public.

Those unable to join the seminars in-person are welcome to participate via zoom if the event is hybrid.


About this event

Political polarization, by distorting how citizens process objective information about government performance, can undermine electoral accountability. We study whether citizens in a highly polarized environment can be nudged to become receptive to incorporating information about government performance in their electoral behavior. We supported a local NGO to design and implement a field experiment that exposed some Mexican citizens, via targeted Facebook ads, to benchmarked information about COVID-19 cases and deaths in their municipality prior to the 2021 elections. In municipalities with high relative levels of COVID-19 cases and deaths, the information had a backlash effect, increasing the fraction of the vote received by the local incumbent party. A randomly assigned anti-polarization treatment, however, obviated and reversed the backlash. In the anti-polarization condition, voters rewarded incumbents with low relative levels of COVID-19 cases and deaths. Our findings show the potential for nudges to enable the communication of objective information even in polarized contexts with high levels of mistrust and heightened emotions.

The Political Science and Political Economy (PSPE) research group at the LSE brings together faculty and PhD students who do quantitative and/or formal research on political institutions, political behaviour, public policy, and political economy.

The PSPE Research Seminar provides a venue for researchers (mostly from outside of the LSE) to present their work.

These seminars are held on Tuesdays in term time at 14.00-15.30, both ONLINE AND IN PERSON in room 32L 3.05, unless specified otherwise.

Seminar coordinator: Mathilde Emeriau

Contact gov.comms@lse.ac.uk to be added to the mailing list and to recieve the zoom link.