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The Difficulty of Defining Political Centrism

A version of this post originally appeared on the author’s blog.

A common refrain heard during presidential races is that candidates must pander to the party extreme during the primary season and then lurch back towards the center after winning the nomination. Mitt Romney, having all but wrapped up the nomination, has already begun this radical and potentially painful change of course.

To whatever extent this conceptual framework accurately describes candidate behavior in election seasons, it is important to realize that it also assumes, none too subtly, that centrist voters — however elusive and poorly defined — are the gatekeepers to the presidency.  Read more

Corruption’s Impact on Voting in Nigeria and Mexico

Asch Harwood is the Council on Foreign Relations Africa program research associate. A version of this post originally appeared on Africa in Transition, a Council on Foreign Relations blog.

John Campbell has regularly made the point that from 1999 to 2007  increasingly bad elections led Nigerians to withdraw from the political process. Despite official proclamations, the 2007 elections were thought to have had an extremely low turnout.

A recent paper (PDF) by the National Bureau of Economic Research (h/t to Chris Blattman), “Looking Beyond the Incumbent: The Effects of Exposing Corruption on Electoral Outcomes,” provides what could be some empirical evidence from their randomized experiment in Mexico to support this observation. Read more