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Place-Based Campaigning: The Political Impact of Real Grassroots Mobilization

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  • Daniel Bischof
  • Thomas Kurer, University of Zurich, University of Konstanz

Generations of research have incrementally identified the circumstances under which electoral campaigns matter. Direct interpersonal contact within local networks is commonly seen as conducive to campaign impact, but empirical evidence is scarce because of demanding data requirements. We advance the literature by studying the Movimento Cinque Stelle (M5S), an important challenger party in Italy, which followed the unusual practice of coordinating political activities on a public online platform. We web scraped the entire history of the movement’s more than 1,000 local branches with over 200,000 geo-coded political activities, to study the effect and mechanisms of their no campaign in the 2016 constitutional referendum. Relying on regression, matching, and instrumental variable models, we demonstrate that local M5S mobilization had sub-stantial campaign effects. Our results have important implications, as they highlight the effectiveness of locally rooted campaigns and the particular potency of place-based political mobilization.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Politics
Pages (from-to)984-1002
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023

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