Political Dynasties and Particularistic Campaigns

Published date01 June 2018
Date01 June 2018
AuthorTaishi Muraoka
Subject MatterArticles
/tmp/tmp-18KqinS1wSTNE0/input 745163PRQXXX10.1177/1065912917745163Political Research QuarterlyMuraoka
Political Research Quarterly
2018, Vol. 71(2) 453 –466
Political Dynasties and Particularistic
© 2017 University of Utah
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DOI: 10.1177/1065912917745163
Taishi Muraoka1
Although many studies agree that electoral systems shape campaign strategies that candidates employ, there is
important variation in their focuses and rhetoric even among those who face the same institutional constrains. To
solve this puzzle, I argue that the dynastic status of candidates, defined as coming from a family with a history of
involvement in politics, is an important individual-level predictor of campaign strategies. Dynastic candidates inherit
personal support bases from their family members who have previously served in congress, and the special ties with
these support bases provide them strategic incentives to adopt particularistic appeals in their campaigns. Analyzing
the electoral manifestos of legislative candidates in Japan, I show that dynastic candidates are more likely to emphasize
the distribution of particularistic goods than nondynastic candidates. I also find that the link between dynastic status
and a particularistic campaign is especially strong among candidates with relatively short political careers. This study
contributes to literature on the determinants of campaign strategies by offering a micro-level explanation for why
some candidates rely more heavily on targeted and particularistic appeals than others.
political dynasty, campaign strategies, particularism, Japan
Legislative candidates employ different strategies in elec-
appeals. At one end of the spectrum, highly party-centered
toral campaigns. Some candidates appeal broadly to all
systems—for example, closed-list proportional representa-
voters by emphasizing programmatic benefits, while oth-
tion (PR) systems with large district magnitude—increase
ers target narrow groups of constituents through particu-
the importance of centralized party organizations in a cam-
laristic appeals (Myerson 1993). Although such paign, which in turn encourages the adoption of program-
distinction between broad-appealing and targeted strate-
matic strategies (Bowler and Farrell 1992). At the other end
gies has been a central issue in literature on campaign
of the spectrum, highly candidate-centered systems—for
behavior, there is recently a resurgence of scholarly inter-
example, majoritarian systems—are associated with par-
est in this topic because of some innovation in research
ticularistic strategies (Farrell 1996; Norris 2004). As these
designs and measurement techniques (e.g., Catalinac
rules place great emphasis on the personal reputation of
2016b; Hersh and Schaffner 2013; Holman, Schneider,
individual candidates, they have incentives to build their
and Pondel 2015; Weber and Thornton 2012). These stud-
own support through promising the delivery of particularis-
ies ask what incentivizes candidates to adopt campaign
tic benefits to some of their constituents, often in the form
styles that emphasize particularistic benefits (Catalinac
of pork.
2016b; Hillygus and Shields 2014) and how these strate-
These explanations, however, do not imply that the
gies affect election outcomes (Hersh and Schaffner 2013;
relationship between electoral formulas and campaign
Holman, Schneider, and Pondel 2015; Weber and types is deterministic. In fact, even when all candidates
Thornton 2012). This study aims to offer a new insight
should have the same institutional incentives, there often
into the first question.
exists some variation in how much they use program-
In comparative studies on campaign strategies, scholars
matic and particularistic rhetoric in their campaigns. For
have long acknowledged that electoral systems play a cen-
example, Karlsen and Skogerbø (2015) illustrate this
tral role in the selection of the two types of strategies
(Bowler and Farrell 1992, 2011; Catalinac 2016b; Farrell
1Washington University in St. Louis, MO, USA
1996; Norris 2004; Sudulich and Trumm 2017). A common
Corresponding Author:
understanding in the literature is that the extent to which
Taishi Muraoka, Washington University in St. Louis, 1 Brookings Dr.,
electoral rules encourage personal vote-seeking incentives
St. Louis, MO 63130, USA.
affects how much candidates emphasize particularistic
Email: tmuraoka@wustl.edu

Political Research Quarterly 71(2)
point using the case of Norway. Although the Norwegian
the members of these “clans” becomes a crucial aspect of
electoral system creates a strong tendency for candidates
their campaigns. Here, the best strategy for dynastic can-
to adopt programmatic campaigns centrally determined
didates to achieve this goal is to emphasize the distribu-
by party leaders, there is some room for them to turn their
tion of particularistic goods in their campaigns. By
campaign focuses to more personalized and localized
promising pork to the members of their support bases,
ones. Therefore, even though the system-level factor is
they can reinforce the inherited patronage linkages and
important, it is not the decisive factor of campaign behav-
continue to receive electoral backing (Querubin 2016).
ior. This opens up a question about what is overlooked in
The nature of the inherited ties, therefore, influences the
the existing studies on the determinants of campaign
strategic calculus of dynastic candidates, thereby making
them more likely to stress the distribution of selective
Recent studies on legislative behavior increasingly
benefits in their campaigns than candidates without such
stress that legislators’ background characteristics are
a trait.
important in shaping their behavior (Burden 2007; Carnes
To test this proposition, I examine the campaign strat-
and Lupu 2015; Tavits 2010; Wängnerud 2009).1 Coming
egies employed by legislative candidates in Japan. It is a
from different backgrounds implies that legislators inter-
suitable case to explore the campaign role of dynastic sta-
nalize different values, experiences, and knowledge that
tus for several reasons. First, political heredity is at least
are translated into distinctive legislative incentives somehow common in Japan, especially among the mem-
(Baumann, Debus, and Müller 2015; Burden 2007). It
bers of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP; Ishibashi and
also means that legislators with different personal attri-
Reed 1992). For instance, approximately 30 percent of
butes rely on different strategic calculus to achieve their
legislators in the Lower House have dynastic status, and
goals (Tavits 2009, 2010). These studies therefore agree
many cabinet positions are held by dynastic politicians
that personal attributes are important in understanding
(Tamura 2007). Second, recent studies by Catalinac
variation in legislative behavior that is not fully explained
(2016a, 2016b) provide excellent data on the electoral
by other determinants of legislative preferences, such as
manifestos of legislative candidates in Japan from 1986
ideologies, party affiliation, constituency preferences, or
to 2009. These data allow me to quantitatively analyze
institutional incentives. The goal of this study is to extend
the strategies that individual candidates use in their cam-
this logic to campaign behavior and explore the micro
paigns and ask what kinds of issues—particularistic
foundation of campaign strategies.
goods versus general public policies—they emphasize.
Specifically, I argue that the dynastic status of candi-
Third, because there was an electoral reform in 1994
dates, defined as coming from a family with a history of
(Reed 2005; Scheiner 2008), I can test the link between
involvement in politics, is an important individual-level
dynastic status and a campaign strategy under two differ-
predictor of campaign strategies. A defining feature of
ent institutional configurations.
candidates with dynastic status is that they inherit per-
Focusing on the proportion of pork-related discussion
sonal support bases from their family members who have
in manifestos, I show that the campaign statements of
previously served in congress (Ishibashi and Reed 1992;
dynastic candidates dwell more extensively on the dis-
Querubin 2016). For example, dynastic candidates in
cussion of particularistic goods than do the manifestos of
Japan inherit personal support organizations known as
nondynastic candidates. Importantly, this positive rela-
kōenkai from their predecessors. These well-established
tionship holds under the two alternative electoral systems
support bases are built on a long-term social exchange
used in the Lower House elections in Japan, which should
between political families and their core supporters and
provide different levels of personal vote-seeking incen-
give dynastic candidates an advantage over nondynastic
tives. Furthermore, I test an interaction effect between
politicians in terms of organizational support and patron-
dynastic status and terms in office, and find that the mar-
age linkages (Ames 1995; Asako et al. 2015). To the
ginal effect of dynastic status decreases and eventually
extent that these organizations enable dynastic candidates

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