Federica Liberini, Michela Redoano, Antonio Russo, Ángel Cuevas Rumin, Ruben Cuevas Rumin, 07 November 2018

The ways we access news and, with it, the nature of political communication have radically changed since the advent of social media. This column uses a unique dataset that matches individuals to Facebook audiences to examine the extent and intensity of online political campaigns conducted on the site before the 2016 US presidential elections. The social platform had a significant effect in persuading undecided voters to support Trump and in persuading Republican supporters to turn out on election day, but had no effect on Clinton’s side.

Yuriy Gorodnichenko, Tho Pham, Oleksandr Talavera, 02 June 2018

The rise of social media has profoundly affected how people acquire and process information. Using Twitter data on the Brexit referendum and the 2016 US presidential election, this column studies how social media bots shape public opinion and voting outcomes. Bots have a tangible effect on the tweeting activity of humans, but the degree of their influence depends on whether they provide information consistent with humans’ priors. The findings suggest that effect of bots was likely marginal, but possibly large enough to affect voting outcomes in the two elections.

Vincenzo Galasso, Tommaso Nannicini, 06 June 2016

The first mixed-gender presidential election in US history is looking increasingly likely, and there is little to suggest that the tone of this campaign will be any less negative than in recent presidential elections. This column uses experiments based around two local elections in Italy to investigate whether men and women differ in their responses to positive and negative election campaigning.  Among female voters, positive campaigning by an opponent increases his or her share of the votes and reduces the votes for the incumbent. Among male voters, however, it is negative campaigning by the opponent that swings votes away from the incumbent.

Francesco Giavazzi, Michael McMahon, 06 November 2012

With the US presidential election turning on a handful of swing states, suspicion arises that an incumbent could ‘buy’ the election by shifting the federal government’s state-level spending to critical states. This column reports ongoing research that suggests this is not likely to be the case. Voters do not seem to reward presidents for more federal spending on private contracts in a given state. As such, it does not seem that Obama could buy votes in swing states such as Ohio using his power as the incumbent.

Scott Baker, Nicholas Bloom, Steven Davis, John Van Reenen, 29 October 2012

The US recovery is painfully slow and monetary policy is at its limits. Pervasive economic uncertainty appears to be holding the US back. But what is the root cause of this uncertainty? This column argues that a polarised political system is to blame. Without a political mechanism that incentivises the election of moderate politicians, the authors predict further political divergence between Republicans and Democrats over the coming years and a consequent intensification of policy uncertainty.

Ethan Ilzetzki, Jonathan Pinder, 20 October 2012

The US economy is struggling out of its deepest recession since the 1930s. In this climate, economic policy promises made by the presidential candidates are critical. This column reviews the facts on the state of the US economy, and how it got there, before reviewing the candidates’ promises. Given the monumental challenges, the lack of policy detail from the candidates is worrying.

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