Statements in which a one-sided partisan media source criticizes a politician aligned with it—friendly fire—are particularly persuasive. This literature assumes a bipartisan context. We argue that when there is a dominant party on one side of the political spectrum with a strong link with a media outlet, voters treat attacks against a co-partisan candidate as friendly fire. But when there is a fragmented opposition, we expect that the strength of the signal conveyed by the friendly fire is diminished. Based on a survey experiment conducted in Argentina, we find the fragmented nature of the opposition changes the dynamic of friendly fire. Only partisan and sophisticated opposition voters treat attacks on opposition candidates as friendly fire. These voters are better able to overcome the lack of clear partisan link with the opposition newspaper and punish their co-partisan candidate.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Political Science and International Relations