Australian National University
Coauthors and affiliations
backsliding, conjoint experiments, meta-analysis, copartisan bias, democratic decline
Despite many experiments examining voter attitudes towards illiberal and undemocratic political behaviour, few explicitly address how and when their results meaningfully suggest that voters cannot be relied upon to protect liberal institutions and democratic procedures. How do these results correspond to verbal claims that a country case is at risk of democratic decline? While a simple meta-analysis of conjoint experiments encouragingly shows that respondents reliably punish undemocratic behaviour, it obscures an important subset of candidate contests and a central quantity of interest -- the proportion of partisan respondents who support an undemocratic copartisan candidate in the face of a pro-democratic out-party opponent. A reanalysis of like experiments shows that enough partisans in long-standing democracies defect to the out-party candidate for democratic decline to be highly unlikely. In new democracies with highly popular and electorally dominant incumbents, such as the Philippines, the proportion of partisans from the incumbent bloc remaining with their undemocratic copartisan is worryingly high. A preregistered conceptual conjoint replication from the Philippines, deployed just prior to the 2022 presidential election, shows that 67% of incumbent supporters remain loyal even when exposed to undemocratic informational treatments.
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When are Democracies at Risk of Democratic Decline? A Meta-Analysis of the Experimental Literature and a Conceptual Replication