Vote Mobilization, Economic Performance and Gubernatorial Appointments in Russia
This paper explores the impact of vote mobilization and economic performance on gubernatorial appointments in Russia. Previous research has demonstrated that governors are more likely to be reappointed when the regime is performing well at the polls in the region. By contrast, there is inconsistent evidence that regional economic performance affects a governor’s reappointment chances. We revisit this topic by updating and extending quantitative analyses of these key questions. We find consistent evidence that governors are more likely to be reappointed when regime vote shares are high in the region, a finding that extends from 2005 through 2020 and is robust to various model specifications and measurement approaches. In an update to existing research, we also show that this finding holds for multiple types of elections – regional legislative, State Duma and presidential – and we also find that high turnout is positively associated with governor reappointment. With respect to economic indicators, we find some suggestive evidence that governors are more likely to be reappointed when regional unemployment is decreasing, and investment and tax revenue are increasing, but these results are not robust. By evaluating governors on the basis of their ability to mobilize votes the center risks disincentivizing good governance. It may also give governors additional incentive to engage in electoral manipulation.