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Does Deceptive Advertising Reduce Political Participation? Theory And Evidence

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Executive Summary

The authors examine the effect of deceptive advertising on voting decisions in elections. They model two candidate elections in which voters are uncertain about candidates' attributes; and candidates can inform voters of their attributes by sending advertisements. They compare political campaigns with truthful advertising to campaigns in which there is a small chance of deceptive advertising. The theoretical model predicts that informed voters should act on the information contained in the advertisement. Thus, even in deceptive campaigns, informed voters should either vote for the candidate from whom they received an advertisement or abstain from voting; they should never vote for the opposing candidate.

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