The perpetual electoral campaign: how Brazilian mayors secure reelection through government advertising
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Is a comparatively diminutive budget item – government expenditures on advertising in the news media – imperiling an effective news media and a transparent and competitive electoral process? High government expenditures on advertising open the door to political self-promotion, the cooptation of news media outlets, and may serve as pipelines for political slush funds. Analyzing an original database of 1,446 Brazilian municipalities (127 million people), we begin to gauge the systemic effects of government advertising expenditures, which are non-campaign budget item, on electoral success. On average, we find that mayors who win reelection spend 33% more on government advertising than losers. We also find that in the context of high expenditures, the number of newspapers is positively and significantly correlated to reelection. Our calculations indicate that current Brazilian legislative proposals to cap advertising expenditures at 1% of municipal budgets would, on average, increase the probability of reelection by nearly 80%.