Marcel Garz

Media | Digital Platforms | Political Economy

In a recent studyGreg Martin and I investigate how news about the economy influences voting decisions. We isolate the effect of the information environment from the effect of change in the underlying economic conditions themselves, by taking advantage of left-digit bias. We show that unemployment figures crossing a round-number “milestone” causes a discontinuous increase in the amount of media coverage devoted to unemployment conditions, and use this discontinuity to estimate the effect of attention to unemployment news on voting, holding constant the actual economic conditions on the ground. Milestone effects on incumbent US Governor vote shares are large and notably asymmetric: bad milestone events hurt roughly twice as much as good milestone events help.