ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

Back to Paper Details

The informative effects of electoral campaigns: A panel analysis of the Spanish 2015 elections

Democracy
Elections
Media
Knowledge
Campaign
Marta Fraile
Universidad Autònoma de Madrid – Instituto de Políticas y Bienes Públicos del CSIC
Monica Ferrin
University of A Coruña
Marta Fraile
Universidad Autònoma de Madrid – Instituto de Políticas y Bienes Públicos del CSIC

Abstract

Electoral campaigns are considered an informational rich environment where citizens have the opportunity to learn about parties’ policy positions. Previous research shows that the rate of informational gains during electoral campaign depends on voter’s prior levels of political sophistication, so that those who are more educated and interested in politics learn more easily than do the less knowledgeable citizens. However, recent evidence from the US and Denmark indicates that campaigns contribute to reduce knowledge inequalities. This paper examines the extent to which electoral campaigns contribute to decrease citizens’ knowledge inequalities by focusing on the 2015 general election in Spain. This election constitutes an unique opportunity to address knowledge gains when truly new information is available, since two relatively new parties compete for the first time in parliamentary elections with the expectation (supported by massive evidence coming from polls) to get a large share of seats. To test the informative effects of the campaign we have designed an online panel survey. A representative sample of the Spanish population was contacted prior to the start of the electoral campaign and will be re-contacted during the last days of the campaign. The survey includes a large and diverse number of political knowledge questions that go beyond the usual measures of party positions in the left-right ideological space. These knowledge items tap different dimensions of politics from the functioning of democratic institutions to the knowledge of specific socio-economic policies proposed by party manifestos. Moreover, we expand the empirical foundation of the existing literature by examining the effect of the campaign on different sources of knowledge inequality: previous political sophistication, informational attainment, education, gender, and information processing personality traits.