Voting behavior in violence-plagued new democracies : crime voting in Mexico’s recent presidential elections
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Crime and violence are central issues for citizens in new democracies, many of which are increasingly threatened by organized crime and “brown areas” of lawlessness. The impact of crime concerns on vote choice, however, has been largely overlooked in the existing literature on voting behavior, which has centered on the role of partisanship, clientelistic linkages, or economic voting in explaining electoral outcomes. In this paper, I argue that crime voting explains much of vote choice in high crime new democracies. Using Mexico as a representative case of a new democracy facing rising violence, I find that crime considerations significantly affect vote choice in the country’s recent presidential elections. In 2006, crime views had up to five times the effect on vote choice as economic considerations. In 2012, despite stronger partisanship, clientelism, and economic effects, and a dearth of candidate attention to the issue, crime perceptions remained a significant predictor of vote choice. This finding suggests crime matters to vote choice and should be incorporated into models of voting behavior in violence-plagued new democracies.