Panagopoulos, Costas & Donald P. Green (2008) "Field Experiments Testing the Impact of Radio Advertisements on Electoral Competition." American Journal of Political Science 52(1): 156-168.
Results from previous studies of campaign spending imply that equal-sized grants to both incumbents and challengers are a net benefit to challengers, who on average spend less money and derive greater marginal returns from each additional dollar. This study provides an experimental test of this proposition. Cities holding mayoral elections in November 2005 and 2006 were randomly assigned to broadcast nonpartisan radio ads that stated the names of the mayoral candidates, reminded listeners about the date of the upcoming election, and encouraged them to vote. Consistent with the findings of previous studies on the differential effects of incumbent and challenger campaign spending on election outcomes, we find that these radio ads produced substantially more competitive elections. The borderline statistical significance of our results, however, invites replication of this experiment.
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