When will voters re-elect populists? Lessons from COVID-19 in Brazil (Supplementary material)

Published: 27 June 2024| Version 2 | DOI: 10.17632/d2txz5r4x9.2
, Petar Stankov,


The data and code here will help to replicate the results in the paper. Abstract: COVID-19 preceded electoral upsets in many countries, but did it cause them? Using both OLS and instrumental variable methods on granular electoral data we find that, in the case of Brazil, (i) both COVID-19 mortality and underlying cases played a significant role in reducing the incumbent candidate’s votes, and (ii) the effect was stronger in more closely contested municipalities. However, COVID-19 lost its relative importance at higher levels of contestability to factors such as municipal-level economic growth, electoral mobilisation, inequality, as well as education and employment structure. As a result, while a typical voter at the national level may have been more interested in the healthcare costs of the COVID-19 pandemic, their electoral focus shifted to the economy in more closely contested municipalities. This is a novel result on the electability of incumbent populists, informing changing perceptions of political competence at varying levels of contestability. This result helps explain re-election strategies of incumbent populists who tend to downplay failures in managing the COVID-19 healthcare crisis and emphasise the state of the economy. Our results imply that populists can indeed boost their re-election chances if they exploit this political trade-off.


Steps to reproduce

Open the readme file and follow the instructions.


Political Economy, Economic Analysis of Election, Economic Analysis of Political Process