Can endorsements persuade voters to transcend politicized identity cleavages to support candidates from other groups? We argue that the persuasive power of cleavage-bridging endorsements depends on the ability of politicians to elicit in-group trust on behalf of out-group candidates. The activation of in-group trust increases the likelihood of voting for out-group candidates by changing both instrumental and affective assessments about the nature of the voter-candidate relationship. To assess these claims, we provide evidence from Kenya, where simulated radio news segments experimentally manipulated the ethnic relationship among voters, endorsers, and candidates. We find that voters who hear endorsements from in-group politicians are significantly more likely to vote for out-group candidates and view them as trustworthy. We further find that the trust premium transferred from in-group endorsers to out-group candidates leads voters to regard them as nondiscriminatory representatives who care about their well-being.

Matthew Gichohi

Post Doctoral Researcher

Leonardo Arriola

Associate Professor at University of California, Berkeley and Affiliated Senior Researcher