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Can Television Bring Down a Dictator? Evidence from Chile's “No” Campaign
Can televised political advertising change voting behavior in elections held in authoritarian regimes? We study the case of Chile, where the opposition used television campaigns weeks before the election that ended the Pinochet regime. We show that after campaigns were launched, firms linked to Pinochet lost stock market value, confirming the contemporaneous importance of television. Using national surveys conducted before the election and administrative electoral data, we provide evidence of a positive effect of television exposure on opposition votes. These results suggest that televised political campaigns can help to defeat dictators at the polls.