To develop and test theoretical expectations about when political parties will make more or fewer nativist appeals in their electoral campaigns.
We use spatial autoregressive models to test our claims about the ways in which electoral competition drives nativist appeals.
We find strong support for our theoretical expectations on how spatial and temporal processes influence parties’ nativist appeals. We also find strong support for our expectations on how the percentage of foreign-born population shapes nativist appeals by government parties and how economic performance shapes nativist appeals by opposition parties.
Spatial party competition conditions the relationship between economic performance, immigration, and parties’ nativist appeals, revealing the strategic behavior of political parties in their choices of when to make nativist appeals more or less prominent in their electoral campaigns.