Naysaying and negativity promote initial power establishment and leadership endorsement
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, October 2018, Pages 638-656
Conventional wisdom holds that leaders should behave in a supportive and positive manner. Yet the past decade has also seen a rise in naysayers’ ascent to power. This research investigates the intriguing possibility that although we may want our leaders to be cheerleaders, we instead empower naysayers. Integrating theoretical perspectives from psychology, leadership, and organizational theory, I present the Naysaying-Agency-Power-Leadership Efficacy (NAPLE) model, which captures the causal link between naysaying and power, and examine leadership efficacy as a downstream implication. Eleven studies provide empirical support for the model. Ten experimental studies demonstrate that naysaying and power are causally linked through the perception of agency. An additional study analyzed 518 eligible voters’ assessments of actual statements from U.S. presidential debates between 1980 and 2008. Results reveal that voters perceived negative and critical presidential candidates as more powerful and, in turn, were more willing to vote for them; this finding was robust to controlling for age, gender, ethnicity, political orientation, and voting history. By systematically establishing that naysaying induces power at the onset, and why, these findings illuminate an unanticipated, yet formidable, determinant of power.
Preference for realistic art predicts support for Brexit
Noah Carl, Lindsay Richards & Anthony Heath
British Journal of Sociology, forthcoming
Following the UK’s EU referendum in June 2016, there has been considerable interest from scholars in understanding the characteristics that differentiate Leave supporters from Remain supporters. Since Leave supporters score higher on conscientiousness but lower on neuroticism and openness, and given their general proclivity toward conservatism, we hypothesized that preference for realistic art would predict support for Brexit. Data on a large nationally representative sample of the British population were obtained, and preference for realistic art was measured using a four‐item binary choice test. Controlling for a range of personal characteristics, we found that respondents who preferred all four realistic paintings were 15–20 percentage points more likely to support Leave than those who preferred zero or one realistic paintings. This effect was comparable to the difference in support between those with a degree and those with no education, and was robust to controlling for the respondent’s party identity.
Playing the Woman Card: Ambivalent Sexism in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Race
Erin Cassese & Mirya Holman
Political Psychology, forthcoming
Late in the 2016 U.S. Presidential primary, Donald Trump attacked Hillary Clinton for playing the “woman's card.” Theories of system justification suggest that attitudes about gender, particularly endorsement of hostile and benevolent sexism, likely shaped reactions to this campaign attack. Using a set of two studies, we find that hostile sexists exposed to the attack showed increased support for Trump and decreased support for Clinton. Benevolent sexists, however, reacted to Trump's statements with increased support for Clinton, consistent with benevolent sexism's focus on protecting women (Study 1). We further found that the woman card attack produced distinct emotional reactions among those with low and high levels of hostile and benevolent sexism. The attack also increased political participation among hostile sexists (Study 2). Our results offer new insights into the role of sexism in the 2016 presidential contest and further the discipline's understanding of the gendered dimension of negative campaigning.
Attitudes Toward Presidential Candidates in the 2012 and 2016 American Elections: Cognitive Ability and Support for Trump
Yoav Ganzach, Yaniv Hanoch & Becky Choma
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming
Using data from the American National Election Studies, we investigated the relationship between cognitive ability and attitudes toward and actual voting for presidential candidates in the 2012 and 2016 U.S. presidential elections (i.e., Romney, Obama, Trump, and Clinton). Isolating this relationship from competing relationships, results showed that verbal ability was a significant negative predictor of support and voting for Trump (but not Romney) and a positive predictor of support and voting for Obama and Clinton. By comparing within and across the election years, our analyses revealed the nature of support for Trump, including that support for Trump was better predicted by lower verbal ability than education or income. In general, these results suggest that the 2016 U.S. presidential election had less to do with party affiliation, income, or education and more to do with basic cognitive ability.
Why Pillory Hillary? Testing the endemic sexism hypothesis regarding the 2016 U.S. election
Valerie Rothwell, Gordon Hodson & Elvira Prusaczyk
Personality and Individual Differences, February 2019, Pages 106-108
The present study used nationally representative American National Election Studies (ANES) data to examine the potential role of sexism in the 2016 presidential election. We hypothesized not only that sexism would predict voting for Trump (vs. Clinton), but that its role would be stronger on the political left (vs. right). The sample consisted of 1916 Clinton or Trump voters (51.41% women; Mage = 51.78, SD = 17.16; 79.5% White) who completed measures of political ideology and hostile sexism. Greater conservatism or sexism significantly predicted voting for Trump (vs. Clinton). As expected, sexism was a significantly stronger predictor of voting for Trump the more left-leaning (vs. right-leaning) the voter. Not only was Clinton correct that sexism played a role in her electoral loss, but she correctly characterized sexism as endemic, an influence especially perceptible on the left.
How Quickly We Selectively Forget: Experimental Tests of Information Order on Memory and Candidate Evaluation
Political Psychology, forthcoming
Despite enormous variation in the order, positivity, and content of information that real‐world electoral campaigns present to voters, we know little about their interactive role in candidate evaluation. This study presents results from two multiwave experiments that varied the positivity of information, its order, and its personal or policy content and assessed its memorability and impact on evaluations over several days. Consistent with observational evidence, recent information is not only more memorable, but also more impactful, in candidate evaluation. However, these effects on evaluations are asymmetric by the positivity of the information, with negative information more impactful than positive information when it is recent, even though negative information fades more quickly in memory. Furthermore, positive and personal information is more memorable, and positive personal information can serve as a powerful anchor when presented first, diminishing recency effects.
Candidate Competition and Voter Learning in the 2000-2012 US Presidential Primaries
George Deltas & Mattias Polborn
Vanderbilt University Working Paper, September 2018
When candidates in primary elections are ideologically differentiated (e.g., conservatives and moderates in the Republican party), then candidates with similar positions affect each others' vote shares more strongly than candidates with different ideological positions. We measure this effect in U.S. Presidential primaries and show that it is of first order importance. We also show that voter beliefs about the candidates harden over the course of the primary, as manifested in the variability of candidate vote shares. We discuss models of sequential voting that cannot yield this pattern of results, and propose an explanation based on a model with horizontally and vertically differentiated candidates and incompletely informed voters. Consistent with the predictions of this model, we also show that, in more conservative states, low quality conservative candidates do better relative to high quality conservatives, and vice versa.
Democratic incumbent resilience in the post-1980 Senate
Research & Politics, October 2018
In the period since the Reagan revolution that disrupted decades of Democratic control of the United States Senate, Democratic senators have proved remarkably resilient when running for reelection. Over the past 600 Senate elections since 1980, Republican incumbents have been defeated at more than twice the rate of Democrats, but won open seat elections at a significantly higher rate. This partisan disparity also appears in incumbent vote share, and is statistically and substantively robust to a range of model specifications accounting for existing theories. A series of explanations drawn from existing research explored in this paper fail to explain this trend, suggesting the need for future research targeting partisan differences in perceptions of parties in Senate campaigns.
Do Voters Discount Political Scandals over Time?
Miguel Pereira & Nicholas Waterbury
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming
This paper explores how political scandals are discounted over time. Previous research has shown that voters respond disproportionately to recent economic conditions when evaluating incumbents. We argue that voters discount not only the performance of incumbents in office but also information about their personal character, largely due to accessibility biases. Building on a comprehensive database of congressional scandals covering the last four decades, we show that the electoral consequences of political scandals fade fairly quickly. Only cases emerging in the election-year systematically affect the vote share of incumbents. Moral scandals are the exception, with negative effects persisting over the entire term. In line with the mechanism proposed, additional analyses suggest this pattern results from disproportional levels of media attention, making moral scandals more easily retrieved from memory. The results broaden our understanding of the nature of myopic voting and provide an explanation for the increasing reliance on negative campaigning.
How voters assess elite-educated politicians: A survey experiment
Thomas Gift & Carlos Lastra-Anadón
Electoral Studies, December 2018, Pages 136-149
Are politicians with elite backgrounds more electable? In this article, we test whether being an elite is a net positive or negative in running for public office via an original survey experiment that manipulates one of the most salient indicators of eliteness in American life: university education. We find that liberals, but not conservatives, perceive politicians who attended elite schools to be more competent. Meanwhile, conservatives, but not liberals, perceive politicians who attended elite schools to be less relatable. On average, citizens are mildly, but not significantly, less inclined to vote for elite-educated politicians. By embedding treatments in our survey for whether politicians came from advantaged or disadvantaged upbringings, we also confirm that our results do not entirely reflect generic attitudes toward economically privileged candidates.
Partisanship, Bureaucratic Responsiveness, and Election Administration: Evidence from a Field Experiment
Ethan Porter & Jon Rogowski
Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, October 2018, Pages 602–617
Though political candidates, observers, and voters often express concern about partisan meddling in supposedly neutral elections, existing research has not directly studied partisan bias among election administrators. We report results from a field experiment conducted in Wisconsin during the 2014 general election. Local election clerks were sent an information request from a putative constituent, randomizing the sender’s partisanship. Our findings are mixed. Overall, partisan email-writers were somewhat more likely to receive responses from local election clerks than email-writers who provided no partisan signal, though these effects are driven mostly by greater responsiveness to Republican constituents. We also find some evidence of increased responsiveness to requests from copartisan constituents, particularly among Republican municipalities. However, we find no evidence that local institutional context moderates the effects of the partisan treatments. Our findings provide new evidence about the presence of partisan biases from administrators in ostensibly neutral settings and raise important questions about the capacity for insulating election administration from partisan influences.
Who Else Is Running? Reference Dependence in Candidate Evaluations
American Politics Research, forthcoming
Research assessing how voters evaluate political candidates often focuses on the effects of particular attributes (e.g., race, gender, partisanship). I submit that voters’ perceptions of candidates may depend not only on candidates’ own traits and features, but those of other candidates running against them. Drawing on literature on reference dependence, I argue that the same candidate may be perceived in significantly different ways depending on whether or not voters evaluate the candidate as a single entity or as one option in a multicandidate field. An original survey experiment reveals that under certain circumstances, Republicans and Democrats both adjust their evaluations of party candidates as a function of the presence of other candidates. I conclude with a discussion of this project’s implications for a larger body of work looking at reference dependence in American elections.
The Impact of Protest on Elections in the United States
Daniel Gillion & Sarah Soule
Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming
Methods: This study uses quantitative, longitudinal data (at the congressional‐district level) on protest, electoral outcomes, and challengers entering races, which are analyzed using an autoregressive distributed lagged regression model.
Results: Results show that protests that express liberal issues lead to a greater percentage of the two‐party vote share for Democratic candidates, while protests that espouse conservative issues offer Republican candidates a greater share of the two‐party vote. Additionally, results indicated that protest shines a light on incumbent politicians’ failure to address constituent concerns, which leads quality candidates to enter subsequent races to challenge incumbent politicians.
The optimal allocation of campaign funds in U.S. House Elections
Electoral Studies, December 2018, Pages 102-113
How should political parties allocate resources in U.S. House elections? Are actual spending strategies optimal? This paper answers these questions by using Bayesian election forecasts to estimate a probabilistic voting model. The model provides real-time estimates of the marginal value of additional resources in a district during a campaign and can be used to compare actual spending patterns to the amount that should have been spent according to the model. The correlation between observed and optimal spending is over 0.5 in each non-redistricting year from 2000 to 2010 and observed spending patterns respond to new polls during a campaign. The correlations are consistent across different types of campaign donors including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee, various political action committees, and individuals. There is also evidence that spending is based on maximizing total seats rather than the probability of winning a majority of seats.