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Title:Three essays in political economy
Author(s):Agirdas, Cagdas
Director of Research:Polborn, Mattias K.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Polborn, Mattias
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Krasa, Stefan; Baer, Werner W.; Arvin-Rad, Hassan
Department / Program:Economics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Media bias
economically self-interested voting
negative campaigning
Abstract:This is a comprehensive study of the U.S. political process from the perspective of media, voters and candidates. In the first chapter, I analyze the sources of media bias. In the second chapter, I focus on economically self-interested voting. The third chapter studies the effectiveness of negative campaigning. In the next three paragraphs, I summarize these three chapters With the advent of internet, many U.S. metropolitan areas have seen newspaper closures due to declining revenues. This provides the researcher with an opportunity to analyze the microeconomic sources of media bias. This paper uses a large panel data set of newspaper archives for 102 newspapers over 238 months (1990-2009). I find that, after controlling for the unemployment rate and the change in unemployment rate, conservative newspapers report 19% more unemployment news when the President is a Democrat rather than a Republican, before the closure of a rival newspaper in the same media market. This effect is 12% for liberal newspapers. After the closure, these numbers are 3.5% and 1%, respectively. This moderation of media bias after closure of a rival newspaper stands as newspaper size, newspaper fixed-effects or metropolitan area fixed-effects are included. I also find that newspapers in smaller metropolitan areas have a larger moderation in their bias. My findings provide support for theories in which media-bias is demand-driven, as surviving newspapers aim to increase their sales by gaining the former readers of a closed newspaper in the same media market. A long literature investigates the influence of income on voting behavior, but it focuses primarily on presidential elections. We ask whether economically self-interested voting is unique to the presidential elections, or if it also extends to House, Senate and gubernatorial elections. In addition, for each office, we look for the presence of absolute income effects and relative income effects. Voters do indeed appear to vote in an economically self-interested manner for each office, but we show that in all elections but presidential elections, this effect is largely generated by the correlation of income with political issue stances. Controlling for voter stances on a number of social and economic issues, there is little evidence of partisan differences in voting according to income outside of presidential elections. Our findings at once support previous studies, but illustrate that presidential elections are very much a special case in US socio-political behavior. Political candidates commonly use negative TV ads to attack their opponents. In very limited research on effectiveness of negative campaigning, endogeneity problem has not been addressed and trait ads were not separated from issue ads. In this project, I use instrumental variables estimates of the effectiveness of negative campaigning and distinguish between issue ads and trait ads. Using 162 U.S. Senate Elections between 1998 and 2008, I find that negative issue campaigning is effective for challengers in significantly reducing the incumbent’s vote, although this effect is not large enough to change the election outcome in lopsided elections. In competitive elections, I find that challenger’s negative issue ads can change the election outcome. I do not find any significant effects of negative issue ads by an incumbent, except for competitive elections. Both incumbents and challengers hurt themselves if they resort to negative trait ads (personal attacks).
Issue Date:2011-08-26
Rights Information:Copyright 2011 Cagdas Agirdas
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-08-27
Date Deposited:2011-08

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