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Political Sci.

Campaigns do not change voters’ opinions

Election campaigns designed to disseminate information about the performance of politicians do not influence voter opinion, according to an analysis of data obtained from several countries, including Brazil. Under the coordination of political scientist Thad Dunning, from the University of California, Berkeley, research teams from around the world asked voters in their countries for their opinions on politicians two months before elections. They then organized leaflet, text message, and video campaigns to provide information on subjects related to the candidates or their parties. Campaigns in Benin, Africa, focused on the behavior of legislators; in Brazil, the focus was on irregularities in public spending; in Burkina Faso, on the quality of public services; and in Mexico, the dishonesty of the local government. There were two hypotheses. The first was that disseminating positive information would increase support for politicians. The second was that sharing negative information would have the opposite effect. But in the end, neither type of information had any significant impact on voter opinion (Science Advances, July 3).