Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy > Vol 2 > Issue 2

Strategic Partisans: Electoral Motivations and Partisanship in Local Government Communication

Justin de Benedictis-Kessner, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, USA,
Suggested Citation
Justin de Benedictis-Kessner (2021), "Strategic Partisans: Electoral Motivations and Partisanship in Local Government Communication", Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy: Vol. 2: No. 2, pp 227-248.

Publication Date: 10 Jun 2021
© 2021 J. de Benedictis-Kessner
Elections,  Executive politics,  Political parties,  Representation,  Urban politics
Local politicsurban politicscitiespartisanshiptext analysisclassification


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In this article:
Data and Research Design 


Politicians use their communication to present a strategic version of themselves to voters. One component of this is the ideological element of communication, which leaders can employ strategically when it is most electorally advantageous and depending on the qualities of their electorate. Using press releases from cities in the U.S., I show that these patterns of strategic communication extend to local politicians. While local politicians use communication that is distinguishable by their partisan identities, politicians engage in more or less partisan communication styles according to the electoral environment. Where politicians' partisanship is well-matched to the ideological leanings of their population, their communication is easily distinguished from that of the opposite party, but where they are misaligned with their constituents' ideology, they communicate in a way that is more similar to the opposite party. These findings provide evidence that the electoral connection influences politicians strategic communication in a way that threatens accountability.



Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy, Volume 2, Issue 2 Special Issue - Local Political Economy
See the other articles that are part of this special issue.