Working Paper
Campaign externalities, programmatic spending, and voting preferences in rural Mexico

The case of Progresa-Oportunidades-Prospera programme

This study presents an analysis of the electoral impacts of one of the most prominent conditional cash transfers in the world: Mexico’s Progresa-Oportunidades-Prospera (POP) programme. Using population censuses, and POP’s administrative records and elections data, we exploit the targeting criteria of the programme and its gradual expansion to implement difference-in-differences estimators and a regression discontinuity design for past presidential elections (2000, 2006, and 2012).

Overall, we find no sizeable electoral effects of POP in favour to the incumbent in the 2000 and 2012 presidential elections, but instead a significant negative effect in the very competitive presidential election of 2006. We provide a theoretical rationalization for this result, which highlights the role of behaviour towards risk near a subsistence threshold and ex-ante expectations among the poor in control localities that were influenced by campaign externalities. We conclude with a discussion on the implications of our results for future theoretical and empirical research.