Presidential Debates and Electoral Preferences in Weakly Institutionalised Democracies: Evidence From 32 Latin American ElectionsFrancisco Cantú & Miguel Carreras
Previous research has shown that presidential debates have “minimal effects” on aggregate electoral preferences because they mainly reinforce people's pre-existing political preferences. However, most of what we know about the behavioural effects of debates comes from research conducted in the United States and other institutionalised democracies. We re-evaluate the effects of debates on electoral preferences by focusing on Latin American elections. Given higher levels of electoral volatility, weaker partisan brands, lower partisanship, and more personalised voter linkages, we expect that debates play a significant role in shaping vote choice in Latin America. We test these expectations by conducting an analysis of presidential debates on aggregated vote preferences in thirty-two elections across fourteen Latin American countries from 2002 to 2019. Our results show that presidential debates shape electoral preferences in countries with weakly institutionalised party systems.
Francisco Cantú & Miguel Carreras. Presidential Debates and Electoral Preferences in Weakly Institutionalised Democracies: Evidence From 32 Latin American Elections. Journal of Politics in Latin America