Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

Runoff systems allow for a reversion of the first-round results: the most voted candidate in the first round may end up losing the election in the second round. But do voters take advantage of this opportunity? Or does winning the first round increase the probability of winning the second? We investigate this question with data from national elections since 1945, as well as subnational elections in Latin America. Using a regression discontinuity design, we find that being the most voted candidate in the first round has a substantial effect on the probability of winning the second round in mayoral races -especially in Brazil-, but in presidential and gubernatorial elections the effect is negative, though not statistically significant at conventional levels. The effect is much stronger when the top-two placed candidates are ideologically close --and thus harder to distinguish for voters-- but weakens considerably and becomes insignificant when the election is polarized. We attribute these differences to the disparate informational environment prevailing in local vs. higher-level races.

Ungated version

Candidate Experience and Electoral Performance. Latin American Research Review, 2022. (with Agustina Haime and Leslie Schwindt-Bayer).

Studies of how previous political experience affects a candidate’s electoral success have overlooked the experience that candidates get from running campaigns even if they lose. This article argues that experience running for office, whether successfully or unsuccessfully, could give candidates several benefits, such as expertise in running strong campaigns, a network of connections, and visibility among the electorate. As a result, candidate experience, not just office-holding experience, should be positively correlated with electoral success. The article tests this expectation in Brazil using a database of candidates for seven types of elected offices between 1998 and 2018. It finds that candidates who ran for, but lost, elected offices are more likely to win when they run in future elections for the same and lower-ranked offices, compared to candidates with no experience running for office. Thus, candidate experience, not just office-holding experience, is important for explaining electoral success in politics.

Ungated version

Gender and Family Ties in Latin American Legislatures. Politics & Gender, 2020 (with Leslie Schwindt-Bayer and Francisco Cantú).

Are women disproportionately more likely than men to have family ties in politics? We study this question in Latin America, where legacies have been historically common, and we focus specifically on legislatures, where women's representation has increased dramatically in many countries. We hypothesize that, counter to conventional wisdom, women should be no more likely than men to have ties to political families. However, this may vary across legislatures with and without gender quotas. Our empirical analysis uses data from the Parliamentary Elites of Latin America survey. We find more gender similarities than differences in legislators’ patterns of family ties both today and over the past 20 years. We also find that women are more likely to have family ties than men in legislatures without gender quotas, whereas this difference disappears in legislatures with quotas.

Ungated version

Articles under review

Do female candidates give up running for office more easily than their male counterparts? Do males and females react in the same way to an electoral setback? If not, what explains that differences? A large body of literature in political science has shown that males are more likely to run for office than females. However, gender differences among those candidates who lost an election have received less attention. My analysis, which features a regression discontinuity design for newcomers in city council elections in Brazil, demonstrates gender differences in persistence among candidates who lost the election. I find that losing an election diminishes the chances of rerunning for both genders. However, the effect is statistically higher for women. I explain this gender gap in rerunning based on the uneven allocation of campaign financial resources.

Willingness-to-pay for public policy on electrical reliability: A natural experiment on Texas winter storm 2021. With Gail J. Buttorff, Yuhsin Annie Hsu, Yewande Olapade, María P. Perez Arguelles, Pablo M. Pinto, Savannah L. Sipole, and M. C. Sunny Wong

Winter Storm Uri led to power outages in many Texas households in February 2021, unveiling crucial deficits in the state's electricity grid. We exploit a quasi-natural experiment to analyze how individuals' differential experiences with power outages affect their willingness to pay (WTP) for policies aimed at increasing the reliability of the supply of electricity. We find that those who experienced longer outages are less willing to pay for reliable energy than individuals who experienced shorter outages and those who did not have an outage during the Winter storm. Our results remain robust to a battery of sensitivity checks. We further explore a mechanism that could explain the differences in WTP for reliable power: the perception of the public authority and the power companies' inability to address the deficits of the Texas power grid.

Book Chapters

Candidate Political Ambition, in Mark P. Jones, ed., Voting and Political Representation in America: Issues and Trends. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2020.

Working papers

Cooperation, Ethnic Diversity, and Segregation after Natural Disasters. With Pablo Balán and Pablo Pinto.

There is a large body of research documenting the predominantly negative effects of diversity on cooperation and collective action. Recent research has also uncovered evidence of changes in social norms, religiosity, time and risk preferences in communities impacted by natural disasters, which may create stronger incentives to engage in spontaneous forms of collective action. In contrast to conventional wisdom, we argue that while diversity hinders cooperation, in times of crises segregated groups are likely to engage in collective action. Using a combination of data from an original survey panel of residents in the Houston area in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and tract-level data from the US Census, we provide evidence that ethnic fragmentation hinders cooperation. Yet we also find that segregation results in higher levels of spontaneous collective action. We also find evidence of differential patterns of cooperation across ethnic groups. In more segregated tracts, African Americans and Latinos are more likely to coordinate with neighbors and family members. We also study the effect of economic mobility, a proxy for group status. We find that economic mobility has heterogeneous effects across groups, alternatively weakening and strengthening different types of cooperative behavior. Finally, we employ the Harris County voter file to conduct a differences-in-differences analysis to study the effects of Harvey on voter turnout and find that individuals living in affected areas were less prone to vote in the 2018 election, but that this difference tends to disappear at higher levels of ethnic fragmentation.

Primary elections and incumbency in Argentina. With Mark Jones.

When do party factions agree on candidate nomination, and when do they go to a primary election? How much influence does incumbency have on the way parties nominate candidates? We study these questions in Argentina by looking at the presence of party primaries for the national lower chamber election. We argue that when the provincial leadership of a party holds the governorship, they will have the incentives and the means to reach an agreement with the rest of the party factions, decreasing the chances of a primary. In contrast, a party leader who does not have the governorship would have a weaker ability to prevent primary elections from defining candidates. Our empirical analysis features a regression discontinuity design between governors and opposition provincial party leaders in elections for the lower chamber from 1983 to 2021. Contrasting with previous studies, we do not find that the governor's incumbency reduces the chances of holding a primary. We further theorize some of the resources governors have to deter primary elections: possible coattail effects, the possibility of reelection, control over the primaries electorate, and control of the electoral calendar. We analyze the data using sub-samples, considering whether the governor can use those resources. We find that incumbency affects deterring primaries only when those resources are available to the governor.

The Candidate Experience Advantage: Evidence from a Quasi-Experiment in the Finish Municipal Elections

Does running and losing improve candidates' chances of getting elected in the future? This article examines Finish open list - proportional representation legislative elections and finds that candidates with experience in running and losing are significantly more likely to get elected than newcomers. A big limitation for answering this question consists in the fact that re-ruuning is a self-selection process. I exploit a difference in difference design where I compare candidates who ran three times and candidates who ran for office twice. Since both types of candidates opt for rerunning, this strategy helps to avoid having self-selection bias. The results are consistent for winning the seat and the percentage of votes obtained by candidates.

Change in Multifamily Values near Light Rail Transit Stations in Houston, Texas. With John Park and María Paula Pérez.