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Can Civil Society Organizations Sway Elections? – Online Survey Experiment
Last registered on July 19, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Can Civil Society Organizations Sway Elections? – Online Survey Experiment
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0004623
Initial registration date
August 24, 2019
Last updated
July 19, 2020 5:01 AM EDT
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
LMU Munich
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
LMU Munich
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2019-08-23
End date
2021-02-01
Secondary IDs
Abstract
W conduct an online survey experiment evaluating the effectiveness of civil society campaigns in shaping the attitudes and behavior of voters in the context of right-wing populism. This online experiment complements a field experiment conducted in the context of three state elections in Germany in the autumn of 2019. This online experiment has the following main goals: first, we aim to replicate our field experiment’s investigation of whether civil society campaigns against right-wing populism can influence attitudes and (vot- ing) behavior at the individual level. Second, we wish to utilize the individual-level data to study potential mechanisms and heterogeneities of how civil society campaigns might influence (voting) behavior. Third, we attempt to measure a ‘first stage’ of our field experiment: are survey respondents from the treated regions of our field experiment more aware of the civil society campaigns that we study in the field experiment? Finally, the main goal of this online experiment is to shed light on the role of a perceived alignment of identity traits between senders and receivers of political communication for the effectiveness of the communication. We do so by varying information about the (regional) identity of the campaign sender (the civil society organization).
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Vollmer, Leonhard and Johannes Wimmer. 2020. "Can Civil Society Organizations Sway Elections? – Online Survey Experiment." AEA RCT Registry. July 19. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.4623-2.2.
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2019-08-24
Intervention End Date
2019-11-30
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Our primary outcomes: Electoral support for "Alternative für Deutschland"
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
We construct our primary outcome based on the following survey question: "How likely is it that you ever vote for Alternative für Deutschland?"

For more details, please refer to our pre-analysis plan.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary outcome: turnout

Our secondary outcomes (not related to elections)
1. attitudes towards and beliefs about immigration
2. attitudes towards and beliefs about climate change
3. identity concerns
4. economic competition concerns

For more details, please refer to our pre-analysis plan.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
As with our primary outcome, we construct these measures from participants' responses in our survey. For more details, please refer to our pre-analysis plan.
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We conduct an online survey experiment with 3,000 participants from Brandenburg, Sachsen, and Thüringen. The sample is representative in terms of age, gender, and income. As part of the survey we elicit a wide range of attitudes, beliefs, concerns, as well as revealed preferences measures form participants.

We expose two thirds of participants with the same campaign materials as in our companion field experiment (Please see the pre-analysis plan of the field experiment which also registered at the AEA RCT Registry for more details on the campaign). We refer to this as the campaign treatment. The remaining third of participants is assigned to the control group.

In addition, we experimentally vary true information about the regional identity of our project partner (and its members) among individuals in the campaign treatment group. We refer to this treatment as identity treatment. To be precise, we provide half of participants in the campaign treatment group with the information that our project partner has many members from her state of residence. The other half receives the information that our project partner is a Berlin-based organization.

For more details on the experimental design please see our pre-analysis plan.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
individual
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
3000
Sample size: planned number of observations
3000
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Control: 1000
Local Treatment Group: 1000
Berlin Treatment Group: 1000
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
For our main outcomes we are able to detect the following effect sizes: 1. Campaign treatment: 10.8 percent of a standard deviation 2. Identity treatment: 12.5 percent of a standard deviation
Supporting Documents and Materials

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IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Ethics Commission, Department of Economics, University of Munich
IRB Approval Date
2019-06-26
IRB Approval Number
2019-14
Analysis Plan

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