Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 15 > Issue 1

An Informational Theory of Electoral Targeting in Young Clientelistic Democracies: Evidence from Senegal

Jessica Gottlieb, The Bush School of Government & Public Service, Texas A&M University, USA, jgottlieb@tamu.edu , Horacio Larreguy, Department of Government, Harvard University, USA, hlarreguy@fas.harvard.edu
Suggested Citation
Jessica Gottlieb and Horacio Larreguy (2020), "An Informational Theory of Electoral Targeting in Young Clientelistic Democracies: Evidence from Senegal", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 15: No. 1, pp 73-104. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00019018

Publication Date: 27 Jan 2020
© 2020 J. Gottlieb and H. Larreguy
Elections,  Campaigns,  Comparative political economy,  Democracy,  Elections,  Electoral behavior,  Political networks,  Political organizations,  Political parties,  Uncertainty,  Collective action,  Principal-agent
African politicsbrokersclientelismvoter coordinationyoung democracies


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In this article:
An Informational Theory of Electoral Targeting 
An Ideal Context to Test the Theory: Senegal 
Empirical Implications of the Theory 


Existing theories of electoral targeting focus on voter partisanship and thus are at odds with the significant vote switching and weakly institutionalized parties that characterize young clientelistic democracies. We propose and test a theory of group-level targeting driven by groups' capacity to coordinate votes and parties' differential information about such capacity. Unlike current theories, ours assumes that most groups are nonpartisan and respond to prior targeting as a function of their coordinating capacity, often reflecting broker effectiveness. We empirically exploit the context of Senegal where new incumbent parties are less well-informed than outgoing incumbents about groups' coordinating capacity but, to maximize future support, learn from local vote tallies and refine targeting strategies over time. Using village-level electoral and public goods data, we show our theory can account for new incumbent parties' learning and targeting patterns across groups and over time, thus contributing to understanding electoral targeting in young clientelistic democracies.