Cesi Cruz - Campaigning Against Populism: Emotions and Information in Real Election Campaigns

Cesi Cruz, Assistant Professor of Political Science at University of California, Los Angeles
Encina Hall West, 400

The rise of populist parties and politicians has also led to changes in political messaging: moving away from campaigning on policy platforms in favor of direct emotional appeals to citizens, often through social media and other channels. The challenge for traditional parties has been how to articulate policy platforms and campaign promises. In particular, can traditional parties use these new methods of campaigning? While there is research on when negative campaigning can be effective, it is less clear how emotions matter and especially how emotions affect the ability of voters to evaluate candidates and parties. We implement a new field experiment in a real world political campaign during the 2019 Philippine elections to explore not only the effects of emotional messaging in political campaigns, but also how emotions can affect the way that policy information is processed and translated into political decisions. We show that direct appeals and emotional messaging foster increased engagement with the political campaign, but that over time, the effect of policy information is more important in driving vote choice.


Cesi Cruz is an assistant professor in the department of political science. She works on topics at the intersection of political science and economics, with a focus on how information and social networks affect electoral incentives and economic outcomes. Her work has been published in outlets such as the American Political Science ReviewAmerican Economic ReviewAmerican Journal of Political ScienceEconomic JournalComparative Political Studies, and the Review of International Organizations.

Cesi is a board member of Experiments in Governance and Politics (EGAP), the Southeast Asia Research Group (SEAREG), and Empirical Studies of Conflict (ESOC). In addition, she serves on the board of Women Also Know Stuff, an organization to promote women’s scholarship in political science.

Her latest projects and working papers are available on her website: www.cesicruz.com.