Book Project

‘George Washington Must Go’: The Causes and Effects of Great Power Electoral Interventions (tentative title)

This book manuscript examines the causes of partisan electoral interventions and evaluates the effects of electoral interventions on the intervened country’s election results. Such interventions have been a quite common phenomenon extending back to the beginnings of competitive elections and even including the 1796 U.S. presidential elections. Since World War II electoral interventions have become quite common: a dataset I constructed of U.S. and Soviet/Russian electoral interventions between 1946 and 2000 (PEIG) finds that there were such interventions in approximately one of every nine competitive national level executive elections during this period. Indeed, the recent Russian intervention in the 2016 U.S. elections for Trump may be the start of a new wave of such great power interventions. Nevertheless, electoral interventions remain understudied.

In this book I examine these two questions through a combination of statistical and qualitative methods. Among other things, I do a statistical analysis of the abovenoted electoral intervention dataset as well as of election surveys done prior to particular cases of electoral intervention (with relevant questions). I also do archival research on cases from all around the world in which electoral interventions were seriously considered by great power interveners.  As for causes, I find that electoral interventions are usually an “inside job,” occurring only if a significant domestic actor within the target agrees to or invites it. Likewise electoral interventions won’t happen unless the intervening country fears its interests are endangered by another significant candidate/party with very different and inflexible preferences. I show that partisan electoral interventions are usually an effective tool for influencing elections, increasing the vote share of the preferred candidate/party by 3% on average, enough in many cases to determine the result.