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All in the Family: Partisan Disagreement and Electoral Mobilization in Intimate Networks - A Spillover Experiment

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Florian Foos, Eline A. de Rooij

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289–304
Number of pages17
JournalAMERICAN JOURNAL OF POLITICAL SCIENCE
Volume61
Issue number2
Early online date7 Sep 2016
DOIs
Accepted/In press29 Jun 2016
E-pub ahead of print7 Sep 2016
Published3 Apr 2017

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Abstract

We advance the debate about the impact of political disagreement in social networks on electoral participation by addressing issues of causal inference common in network studies, focusing on voters' most important context of interpersonal influence: the household. We leverage a randomly assigned spillover experiment conducted in the United Kingdom, combined with a detailed database of pretreatment party preferences and public turnout records, to identify social influence within heterogeneous and homogeneous partisan households. Our results show that intrahousehold mobilization effects are larger as a result of campaign contact in heterogeneous than in homogeneous partisan households, and larger still when the partisan intensity of the message is exogenously increased, suggesting discussion rather than behavioral contagion as a mechanism. Our results qualify findings from influential observational studies and suggest that within intimate social networks, negative correlations between political heterogeneity and electoral participation are unlikely to result from political disagreement.

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