11.45 am to 1.00 pm
Campaigning Against Populism: Emotional and Informational Messaging in Real Campaigns
While there is a large literature on the causes of populism, much less is known about how to campaign against populists once they're in office. Populist incumbents tend to enjoy strong emotional connections with voters which puts opposition parties at a disadvantage. In this paper, we explore how policy-driven, opposition politicians can campaign effectively in this context. We partnered with a major opposition political party in the Philippines to randomize their door-to-door information campaign for the 2019 Senatorial elections. The base treatment arm was a door-to-door information campaign on policy promises. The other treatment added an unobtrusive activity intended to produce a persistent, positive emotional appeal in contrast to the negative emotional appeals that incumbent populists typically use. Door-to-door visits increased both knowledge about the party's policies and vote for the party's candidates, with large differences in the short-term versus long-term. The additional emotional messaging increased engagement, but was less effective than the information-only treatment in terms of voting behavior on election day.