Evaluating the Effect of Broadcasting Legislative Debates: Evidence from Liberia
In the context of Liberia, one of the world’s poorest democracies where democratic accountability is weakest, USAID and Internews Liberia ambitiously ran standardized debates between legislative candidates in all 73 electoral districts, designed to solicit meaningful policy promises, and rebroadcast the debates through community radio stations. In partnership with them, we randomized two key elements of the initiative in order to generate random variation in the likelihood that candidates appeared in the debates and how intensively the debates were rebroadcast. The intervention is complete, with a panel survey of 4,000 citizens nearly complete, a survey of 100 radio stations being conducted, transcripts from all debates being completed and coded, and polling station-level electoral returns scraped. We seek funding for an auxiliary survey of political candidates (irrespective of debate participation) to provide direct evidence on mechanisms in the project.