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Unintended consequences of negative campaigning: Backlash and second-preference boost effects in a multi-party context

Walter, Annemarie S; van der Eijk, Cees

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Abstract

This study examines effects of negative campaigning by political parties on citizens’ electoral preferences in the 2015 General Election in England. We do so by using a large Internet panel study and an operationalisation of (perceived) negative campaigning that avoids social desirability. Our study acknowledges England’s multiparty system by distinguishing between the campaign tones of all parties. Potential problems of endogeneity are addressed by leveraging the panel structure of the data and by extensive controls. We find that electoral preferences are weakened for parties engaging in negative campaigning and that this backlash effect gets stronger over the course of the campaign. We also find support for a second-preferences boost hypothesis: preferences for one’s second-most preferred party are strengthened if its campaign is more positive than that of one’s most-preferred party.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Aug 1, 2019
Journal The British Journal of Politics and International Relations
Print ISSN 1369-1481
Electronic ISSN 1467-856X
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 21
Issue 3
Pages 612-629
APA6 Citation Walter, A. S., & van der Eijk, C. (2019). Unintended consequences of negative campaigning: Backlash and second-preference boost effects in a multi-party context. British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 21(3), 612-629. https://doi.org/10.1177/1369148119842038
DOI https://doi.org/10.1177/1369148119842038
Publisher URL https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1369148119842038

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