Elite Parties and Poor Voters: Theory and Evidence from India

Abstract
Why do poor people often vote against their material interests? This article extends the study of this global paradox to the non-Western world by considering how it manifests within India, the world's biggest democracy. Arguments derived from studies of advanced democracies (such as values voting) or of poor polities (such as patronage and ethnic appeals) fail to explain this important phenomenon. Instead, I outline a novel strategy predicated on an electoral division of labor enabling elite parties to recruit the poor while retaining the rich. Recruitment is outsourced to nonparty affiliates that provide basic services to appeal to poor communities. Such outsourcing permits the party to maintain programmatic linkages to its elite core. Empirically, I test this argument with qualitative and quantitative evidence, including a survey of more than 9,000 voters. Theoretically, I argue that this approach is best suited to elite parties with thick organizations, typically those linked to religious social movements.

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Published on《 American Political Science Review》 in May, 2014.
http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9283380

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