Going Local to Win the Nation: Political Boosting in Mayoral Politics.

Abstract

In federal democracies, parties often invest in local politics for national gains. This strategy is crucial, particularly in noisy democracies where politicians need to find information shortcuts to attract inattentive voters. I define this strategy as political boosting and investigate its dynamics in Brazil, a textbook example of a fragmented party system. Using a regression discontinuity, I show that parties in Brazil boost their national performance earning more votes on House elections in districts where their members control the local office. I discuss how higher access to pork controlled by House members and information gains from local incumbency explain the effects. Using a Bayesian LASSO algorithm to address data sparsity in RD designs, I further show the existence of pro-large party bias. By disentangling the effects of boosting after winning local non-concurrent elections, the paper explains the general logic by which parties build electoral strength in fragmented democracies.

Publication
Working paper, Under Review