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Persuasive PeersSocial Communication and Voting in Latin America$
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Andy Baker, Barry Ames, and Lúcio Rennó

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691205779

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691205779.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

Clientelism as the Purchase of Social Influence

Clientelism as the Purchase of Social Influence

Coauthored with Joby Schaffer

(p.187) 7 Clientelism as the Purchase of Social Influence
Persuasive Peers

Andy Baker

Barry Ames

Lúcio Rennó

Princeton University Press

This chapter assesses elite behavior, demonstrating that clientelistic party machines try to pay off hubs — that is, voters with large political discussion networks who frequently engage in persuasion. In seeking to buy votes, the best strategy a party can pursue is to target citizens who are well-connected opinion leaders in informal networks. These voters represent the machine's highest potential yield because they can magnify the effect of the payoff by diffusing positive information about the machine through their large social networks. The chapter uses the Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) and the Mexico 2006 Panel Study to show that party machines do target well-connected voters throughout Latin America. It also shows that a finding central to previous theories — namely, that loyal partisans are the most likely targets of clientelism — is driven by omitted-variable and endogeneity bias. In other words, scholarly expectations of party activity change when one recognizes that parties operate in a world of horizontally networked voters.

Keywords:   elite behavior, clientelistic party machines, political discussion networks, vote buying, opinion leaders, social networks, well-connected voters, Latin America, clientelism, party activity

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