Research

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

How much influence does incumbency have on the way parties nominate candidates? I address this question in the context of Argentina, examining how political parties decide on candidate nomination methods for National Deputies. I argue that holding the governorship creates an imbalanced distribution of resources within a party, leading party factions to lean toward consensus in candidate selection and reducing the likelihood of choosing a primary election. Conversely, when a party lacks the governorship, its provincial party leader may have a weaker influence in deterring primary elections. I also theorize the various situations and resources governors can employ to discourage primary elections, including potential coattail effects, the option of seeking reelection, control over the primaries’ selectorate, and control of the electoral calendar. To test my expectations, I employ a regression discontinuity design, focusing on governors and those who finished as runners-up in lower chamber elections from 1985 to 2023. My findings reveal that governor incumbency decreases the probability of holding a primary election. I conduct further analyses by examining subgroups, considering the governor’s circumstances and the resources I previously theorized as factors influencing primary deterrence. I find that incumbency only deters primaries when the governor and National Deputies elections are concurrent, when the governor is not term-limited, and when they have control over the electorate and the electoral calendar.

Ungated version

Do female candidates give up running for office after losing more readily than their male counterparts? I address this question by employing a regression discontinuity between last winners and first losers in city council elections in Brazil. The results show that losing an election diminishes the chances of running again for both genders. However, the effect is large for women. I offer an explanation for this gender gap in rerunning by developing a model based on the distribution of campaign financial resources among candidates. I argue that female candidates receive fewer financial resources from donors and their political parties than male candidates. Consequently, to run for office, women often need to use more of their own money. This leads to a faster depletion of their personal financial resources and, ultimately, a greater likelihood of them dropping out of politics. The argument is supported by evidence on campaign financing for the same period. 

Ungated version

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

2. 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

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 

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. 

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.  

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