Book Project
Voter Backlash, Elite Misperception, and the Logic of Violence in Electoral Competition

Existing theories of election-related violence have sought to explain it in terms of the various electoral benefits it is said to provide. Some theories highlight the coercive effects of violence, while others emphasize its ability to persuade. Yet far less attention has been paid to the costs of violence as an electoral tactic, including the potential for voter backlash against the parties and candidates that use it. Furthermore, the literature tends to assume that politicians who incite violence do so based on an accurate assessment of its relative costs and benefits. The book argues that elite misperception--the result of inadequate information or cognitive bias--is an overlooked explanation for the incidence of violence in electoral competition. It provides evidence that, in fact, voter backlash against violence is greater and more broad-based than both scholars and politicians tend to assume. Moreover, the backlash may be large enough to offset any advantages that violence provides, calling into question the efficacy of violent campaign tactics overall.

Peer-Reviewed Articles
Nellis, Gareth, Michael Weaver, and Steven C. Rosenzweig. 2016. "Do Parties Matter for Ethnic Violence? Evidence from India". Quarterly Journal of Political Science 11(3): 249-277.
Replication files here.

Replication files here.

Working Papers

The Effect of Primaries versus Direct Nomination on Candidate Characteristics and Election Outcomes: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Kenya

(In)Validity of Age Measures in Developing Country Surveys: Diagnosis and Consequences