UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Rally the vote : electoral competition with direct campaign communication Jha, Anubhav


Political rallies have formed a large part of electoral campaigns in developed and developing countries. Chapter 2 of this thesis presents a model of candidates’ rally decisions during an election. In this model, candidates compete across states by holding political rallies to increase their relative local popularity. They aim to be relatively popular in as many states as possible on election day. The rally decisions are made over time, and the relative local popularity of candidates exhibits decay. The model exhibits a unique Subgame Perfect Nash Equilibrium. The equilibrium strategies predict that as elections approach, candidates gradually rally more in states where the relative popularity is on the margin. The chapter also discusses comparative statics with respect to the model's key parameters. Chapter 3 estimates the model to uncover rally effectiveness for the 2012 and 2016 U.S. presidential elections. Estimates uncover that rallies by presidential candidates were effective in increasing their poll margin lead over their opponents. The estimates also reveal that a rally by a presidential candidate is more persuasive than a television ad. I construct and execute model selection tests that infer whether candidates are strategic and forward-looking to validate model assumptions. Counterfactual exercises show that Trump’s rallies were electorally pivotal, while rallies by other candidates did not affect their chances of winning. The effects of short-term campaign silences (i.e., forbidding political campaigning) are limited since candidates can gain sufficient support from the electorate before campaign silences begin. Chapter 4 extends the model in Chapter 2 for the case of Indian General Elections. The extended model is estimated using a Metropolis-Hastings algorithm. The chapter finds that rallies in India were more persuasive than in the U.S. Moreover, unlike the U.S., total rallies by both candidates were electorally pivotal. The Indian General Elections are held in a staggered format. If the elections were simultaneous, then the National Democratic Alliance would suffer considerable loss in their parliamentary seats and majority winning chances. I also discuss the limitations and the future direction of this study.

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