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This chapter studies the impact of violence on voting behavior in the presidential election of 2012.1 During the administration of President Felipe Calderón, Mexico experienced a significant escalation of violence as a result of the domestic drug war and government confrontations with various criminal organizations .2 The war against drug traffic organizations (DTOs) claimed more than 50,000 lives over the six-year term of President Calderón. In several cities the violence reached fatality levels on par with some of the bloodiest civil wars around the world.3 Using precinct-level electoral returns, we estimate the degree to which violence affected voting decisions across Mexico, controlling for a host of structural sociodemographic and political conditions. Drug-related violence could have influenced voting behavior through two channels. The first channel would be through a change in the decision to participate in the election, thereby shifting turnout patterns. From a theoretical perspective, it is not evident whether violence should decrease or increase turnout because the effects of violence leading citizens to stay at home on Election Day might be offset by greater civic engagement as an affirmation of the democratic process as the appropriate response to the challenges of organized crime and violence. In terms of the classic calculus of voting equation, it is possible that the benefit of citizen duty may increase even as the costs of the voting act itself become significantly higher. The second channel involves vote choices. If they turn out, voters must decide how to cast their vote. The patterns of voting observed at the regional, state, electoral district, or municipal levels are the consequence of aggregating those vote choices. Violence may elicit a backlash against incumbents, or a specific party that can credibly offer to restore order and peace could garner greater 7 Drugs, Bullets, and Ballots The Impact of Violence on the 2012 Presidential Election EDGAR FRANCO VIVANCO, JORGE OLARTE, ALBERTO DÍAZ-CAYEROS, AND BEATRIZ MAGALONI 154 Mexico’s Evolving Democracy support in places experiencing violence. The effects of violence on electoral preferences might be determined by how citizens perceive who is to blame for the violent state of affairs, what strategy voters believe the various challengers would follow if they were elected, and whether the incumbent party can succeed in claiming credit for its performance vis-à-vis violence. Risk-averse voters may decide to support the incumbent, even when they deem his performance wanting, so it is not necessarily the case that voters will radically shift their voting behavior in order to curb the power of criminal organizations. The rhetoric and campaign statements of the electoral process itself did not provide a firm expectation as to what the effect of violence on the election could be. Some expected the elections to be disrupted by violence, which never materialized . Others feared that candidates for federal office would be assassinated as the election months advanced, as has happened in mayoral races; again, a fear that did not pan out. The incumbent party candidate (Josefina Vázquez Mota, or JVM) was not running on a hawkish platform of mano dura or law and order as would be typical of a rightwing party under conditions of violence. The leftist candidate (Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or AMLO) was running mostly on a platform of social issues that tended to deemphasize the war on drugs as a major campaign theme. And the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) comeback was couched on its appeal to rural, less educated, and traditional voters whose affinity for the PRI did not privilege a particular grievance. The party platforms of the three candidates were ideologically convergent, particularly in their economic proposals, and a left-right division of voters into a profile mirroring the ideological party spectrum was not present. What was somewhat remarkable about the campaign process itself is how little the question of violence and the appropriate state response to organized crime figured in the presidential race or the televised candidate debates. Hence the potential issues of violence for the campaign were either minimized or ignored by the candidates. But this does not mean that, in making their voting calculations, citizens did not have some expectations regarding what each candidate would do (or was capable of doing) regarding drug violence. We explore the impact of violence on the 2012 election from an electoral geography perspective.4 In order to assess the effect of violence on turnout and voting patterns, we take a territorial approach, using the actual electoral outcomes...


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