Reconciling Sexism and Women’s Support for Republican Candidates: A Look at Gender, Class, and Whiteness in the 2012 and 2016 Presidential Races
Erin Cassese & Tiffany Barnes
Political Behavior, forthcoming
Much of the gender gap literature focuses on women’s greater average liberalism relative to men. This approach masks considerable heterogeneity in political identity and behavior among women based on race, class, and other key socio-demographic characteristics. In the 2016 Presidential contest, political divisions among women were evident in exit polling, which demonstrated that a majority of white women voted for Donald Trump. This was not an anomaly but reflects a more long-standing distinction between white women and women of other racial and ethnic identifications. In this paper, we draw on intersectionality and system justification theory as frameworks for exploring the distinctive political behavior of white women. Using data from the 2012 and 2016 American National Election Studies, we evaluate the factors that attracted white women voters to the GOP and kept them in the fold in spite of expectations that sexism in the campaign would drive women away from the party during the 2016 Presidential race. Our analyses show that many white women endorse sexist beliefs, and that these beliefs were strong determinants of their vote choice in 2016, more so than in 2012. Our findings also point to important divisions among white women based on educational attainment and household income in terms of both the endorsement of sexism and vote choice. These results shed new light on white women’s political behavior and qualify the existing gender gap literature in important ways, offering new insights into the ways whiteness, gender, and class intersect to shape political behavior.
A Tale of Two Democrats: How Authoritarianism Divides the Democratic Party
Julie Wronski et al.
Journal of Politics, forthcoming
Authoritarianism has been predominantly used in American politics as a predictor of Republican identification and conservative policy preferences. We argue that this approach has neglected the role authoritarianism plays among Democrats and how it can operate within political parties regardless of their ideological orientation. Drawing from three distinct sets of data, we demonstrate the impact of authoritarianism in the 2016 Democratic Party’s primaries. Authoritarianism consistently predicts differences in primary voting among Democrats, particularly support for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. This effect is robust across various model specifications including controls for ideology, partisan strength, and other predispositions. These results highlight the potential of authoritarianism to shape leadership preferences within the Democratic Party. We advocate for a reconsideration of authoritarianism as a disposition with meaningful consequences for intraparty dynamics and conclude with practical implications regarding the future of the Democratic Party.
What if Hillary Clinton Had Gone to Wisconsin? Presidential Campaign Visits and Vote Choice in the 2016 Election
The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics, July 2018, Pages 211–234
Hillary Clinton’s failure to visit the key battleground state of Wisconsin in 2016 has become a popular metaphor for the alleged strategic inadequacies of her presidential campaign. Critics who cite this fact, however, make two important assumptions: that campaign visits are effective, in general, and that they were effective for Clinton in 2016. I test these assumptions using an original database of presidential and vice presidential campaign visits in 2016. Specifically, I regress party vote share on each candidate’s number of campaign visits, at the county level, first for all counties located within battleground states, and then for counties located within each of six key battleground states: Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. The results of this analysis do not clearly support either of the assumptions made by Clinton’s critics. In general, none of the presidential or vice presidential candidates – including Clinton – significantly influenced voting via campaign visits. However, Clinton is one of only two candidates – along with Mike Pence, in Ohio – whose campaign visits had a significant effect on voting in an individual state. Specifically, Clinton’s visits to Pennsylvania improved the Democratic ticket’s performance in that state by 1.2 percentage points. Also, there is weak evidence to suggest that Clinton might have had a similar effect on voting in Michigan. It is unclear from this evidence whether Clinton also would have gained votes, or even won, in Wisconsin had she campaigned in that state. But two conclusions are clear. First, Clinton’s visits to Democratic-leaning battleground states did not have the “backfiring” effect that her campaign reportedly feared. Second, Donald Trump did not win in Pennsylvania, Michigan, or Wisconsin as a direct result of his campaign visits to those decisive states.
How Messages About Gender Bias Can Both Help and Hurt Women’s Representation
Deborah Jordan Brooks & Danny Hayes
American Politics Research, forthcoming
Gender bias in elections is both a source of debate in the political science literature and a prominent topic in U.S. political discourse. As a result, Americans are exposed to differing messages about the extent to which women face disadvantages in their campaigns for office. We argue that such messages can have differing effects — some of which benefit female candidates, but others that may perpetuate the gender gap in political ambition. Using a survey experiment administered on samples of the U.S. public, campaign donors, and college students, we show that messages portraying women as facing gender bias boosts female candidates’ support and young people’s willingness to engage in campaign activism on their behalf. Simultaneously, it does not affect female candidates’ fundraising ability. But paradoxically, such messages also reduce young women’s confidence in their own ability to run a political campaign. These results suggest important implications for women’s underrepresentation.
The Trump Effect: Filing Deadlines and the Decision to Run in the 2016 Congressional Elections
Gavin Riley & Jacob Smith
The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics, July 2018, Pages 193-210
In this paper, we examine whether the nomination of Donald Trump for president affected decisions to run for Congress in 2016 in states with later filing deadlines. We theorize that the perception among potential candidates that Donald Trump would be a weak nominee had the potential to entice high-quality Democratic candidates (defined as those who have previously held an elective office) to run for Congress as it became increasingly clear that Donald Trump would be the Republican presidential nominee. We also examine an alternative hypothesis that the impending Trump nomination enhanced political amateurs’ perception they could win in 2016, enticing them to run for Congress. Using a novel dataset from PredictIt, we find support for the second hypothesis, with more political amateurs running as the Trump nomination became more likely. These findings suggest that Donald Trump’s nomination had important consequences that went beyond the presidential race.
The power of post-racial: An exploration of post-racial rhetoric’s influence on candidate evaluations
Julian Wamble & Chryl Laird
Politics, Groups, and Identities, forthcoming
While there has been much discussion among scholars and pundits about whether American society has become post-racial since 2008, the conversation has yet to delve into how politicians who call for citizens to move past racial divisions are evaluated relative to those who use other kinds of racial language. We offer a theoretical framework that explains how and why post-racial language is an effective rhetorical tool for any politician, and establish how it compares to previously researched forms of political language about race. Using an experimental test, we establish that post-racial language influences candidate evaluations in meaningful ways that differ from racial language styles that emphasize compassion or derision towards black people, and find that calling for society to move beyond race leads to higher candidate evaluations. We discuss the implications of these findings as they relate to the ongoing discussion about political stereotypes and racial discussions.
Are Americans Stuck in Uncompetitive Enclaves? An Appraisal of U.S. Electoral Competition
Bernard Fraga & Eitan Hersh
Quarterly Journal of Political Science, August 2018, Pages 291-311
Most elections in the United States are not close, which has raised concerns among social scientists and reform advocates about the vibrancy of American democracy. In this paper, we demonstrate that while individual elections are often uncompetitive, hierarchical, temporal, and geographic variation in the locus of competition results in most of the country regularly experiencing close elections. In the four-cycle period between 2006 and 2012, 89% of Americans were in a highly competitive jurisdiction for at least one office. Since 1914, about half the states have never gone more than four election cycles without a close statewide contest. More Americans witness competition than citizens of Canada or the UK, other nations with SMSP-based systems. The dispersed competition we find also results in nearly all Americans being represented by both political parties for different offices.
The Montagu Principle: Incivility decreases politicians’ public approval, even with their political base
Jeremy Frimer & Linda Skitka
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming
M. W. Montagu asserted that, “civility costs nothing and buys everything.” In the realm of social judgment, the notion that people generally evaluate civil people more favorably than uncivil people may be unsurprising. However, the Montagu Principle may not apply in a hyper-partisan political environment in which politicians “throw red meat to their base” by unleashing uncivil, personal attacks against their opponents, satisfying the aggressive desires of their most hyper-partisan supporters, and thus potentially redoubling their approval among them. We conducted 2 longitudinal/observational studies of U.S. Congress and President Trump, and 4 experiments (N = 4,837) involving real exchanges between President Trump and his adversaries and a speech by a fictitious politician. Civility helped or did not affect — but never harmed — the reputation of the speaker, supporting the Montagu Principle. Even self-identified “diehard supporters” of President Trump, for example, evaluated the president more favorably after he responded with civility to a personal attack. Uncivil remarks uniquely diminished the speaker’s reputation, and had little impact on the reputation of the targets of the attack, the perceived winner of the verbal exchange, the reputation of the speaker’s party, or the sense that the country is moving in the right direction. Incivility made the speaker seem less warm and did less to affect perceptions of dominance or honesty. This warmth deficit explained the reputational costs of incivility.
The Contingent Effects of Candidate Sex on Voter Choice
Yoshikuni Ono & Barry Burden
Political Behavior, forthcoming
A prominent explanation for why women are significantly underrepresented in public office in the U.S. is that stereotypes lead voters to favor male candidates over female candidates. Yet whether voters actually use a candidate’s sex as a voting heuristic in the presence of other common information about candidates remains a surprisingly unsettled question. Using a conjoint experiment that controls for stereotypes, we show that voters are biased against female candidates but in some unexpected ways. The average effect of a candidate’s sex on voter decisions is small in magnitude, is limited to presidential rather than congressional elections, and appears only among male voters. More importantly, independent voters display the greatest negative bias against female candidates. The results suggest that partisanship works as a kind of “insurance” for voters who can be sure that the party affiliation of the candidate will represent their views in office regardless of the sex of the candidate.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Do Attractive Politicians Get a ‘Break’ When They are Involved in Scandals?
Daniel Stockemer & Rodrigo Praino
Political Behavior, forthcoming
In general, politicians involved in scandals of various natures are punished by voters. Good-looking politicians, on the contrary, are rewarded by voters. Almost fifty years of empirical research has shown that ill-informed voters will use the physical attractiveness of candidates, as well as readily-available information on scandal allegations involving candidates running for office, as a heuristic shortcut to determine their voting behaviour. This article represents the first attempt to link the existing literature on the electoral effects of scandals with the existing literature of the electoral impact of candidate attractiveness. Using data on U.S. House of Representatives elections between 1972 and 2012, we find that candidate attractiveness mitigates the negative electoral effects of involvement in scandal; this implies that attractive politicians do get a “break” when involved in scandals. Of all type of scandals, we also find that candidate attractiveness has the largest moderating role if the incumbent is embroiled in a sex scandal.
Help or Hindrance? Outside Group Advertising Expenditures in House Races
The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics, July 2018, Pages 313–330
Super PACs, 501(c)4 social welfare organizations, and 501(c)6 professional associations are now major spenders in House elections. What remains unclear is how the strategic expenditure choices of these respective outside interest groups impact the competitive position of non-incumbent candidates running for the House – specifically do their advertising expenditures undermine or augment the expenditures made by the campaign. Using the Wesleyan Media Project datasets of 2012 and 2014 in combination with campaign finance data in a series of models, I find early television advertising expenditures by the aforementioned 501(c) dark money organizations diminish the effectiveness of non-incumbents’ campaign expenditures – both on television advertising and in general – whereas super PACs’ early television advertising expenditures have no significant impact on campaign spending. A comparison of 501(c) dark money organizations’ and super PACs’ advertising choices in 2012 and 2014 reveals these differential effects likely relate to legal constraints leading 501(c)s, and not super PACs, to devote more resources toward policy advertisements early in the general election cycle. I argue this choice by 501(c) s makes it difficult for non-incumbents’ campaigns to shape the policy agenda early in the race leading the campaign’s expenditures on television advertising and the campaign’s total disbursements to be less effective in terms of improving the candidate’s competitiveness.
Early Voting Changes and Voter Turnout: North Carolina in the 2016 General Election
Hannah Walker, Michael Herron & Daniel Smith
Political Behavior, forthcoming
North Carolina offers its residents the opportunity to cast early in-person (EIP) ballots prior to Election Day, a practice known locally as “One-Stop” voting. Following a successful legal challenge to the state’s controversial 2013 Voter Information and Verification Act, North Carolina’s 100 counties were given wide discretion over the hours and locations of EIP voting for the 2016 General Election. This discretion yielded a patchwork of election practices across the state, providing us with a set of natural experiments to study the effect of changes in early voting hours on voter turnout. Drawing on individual-level voting records from the North Carolina State Board of Elections, our research design matches voters on race, party, and geography. We find little evidence that changes to early opportunities in North Carolina had uniform effects on voter turnout. Nonetheless, we do identify areas in the presidential battleground state where voters appear to have reacted to local changes in early voting availability, albeit not always in directions consistent with the existing literature. We suspect that effects of changes to early voting rules are conditional on local conditions, and future research on the effects of election law changes on turnout should explore these conditions in detail.
Publicizing Scandal: Results from Five Field Experiments
Donald Green, Adam Zelizer & David Kirby
Quarterly Journal of Political Science, August 2018, Pages 237-261
Despite decades of research on the persuasive effects of propaganda, little is known about opinion change in the wake of journalistic accounts of scandal involving public officials. To what extent and under what conditions do opinions change in the wake of information conveyed through newspapers? We conducted five experiments to assess how publicizing scandal changes evaluations of the specific public officials involved and attitudes towards government in general. In each study, subjects drawn from voter files and lists of party activists were mailed "special edition" investigative newspapers that reported on scandals involving public officials. Feature stories depicted some public officials as villains and others as heroes. Treatment and control groups were interviewed approximately two weeks later. We find significant effects on both voters and activists. The most striking pattern is the change in net favorability of the public officials implicated in the scandals. Evaluations of the villains deteriorated and evaluations of the heroes improved. Changes in evaluations are especially large when scandals implicated public officials with whom respondents had little prior familiarity.
The Electoral Consequences of Issue Frames
Erik Peterson & Gabor Simonovits
Journal of Politics, forthcoming
What happens after issue frames shape public opinion? We offer an account of the downstream effects of issue frames on candidate choice. We then use three studies combining issue framing experiments with conjoint candidate choice experiments to directly assess these downstream effects. Despite an ideal setting for elite influence on public opinion, we find that frames ultimately have modest effects on how the public later evaluates politicians. Our theoretical framework highlights two sources of this disconnect. Frame-induced opinion change is only one component, often outweighed by other factors, in candidate choice, and the issues most amenable to framing are the least relevant for evaluating candidates. This introduces a new consideration into debates about the political consequences of issue frames. Even after they change the public’s policy opinions, issue frames may still have limited implications for other political outcomes.
Does Partisan Self-interest Dictate Support for Election Reform? Experimental Evidence on the Willingness of Citizens to Alter the Costs of Voting for Electoral Gain
Political Behavior, forthcoming
Elite support for modifying electoral institutions and policies generally depends on whether a proposed change is expected to improve their party’s electoral prospects. Prior studies suggest that the average citizen evaluates potential reforms in a similar manner, but they fail to directly demonstrate that individuals actually consider their partisan self-interest when forming policy preferences. I address this limitation through two survey experiments that manipulate the specific group for whom reforms make voting more or less difficult. The results provide strong causal evidence that individuals update their attitudes as expected in response to that information. Members of both parties consistently express greater support for changes when framed as advancing their party’s electoral prospects than when characterized as benefiting their opponents. The findings have important implications for the constraints faced by political actors in gaming the electoral system in their favor and for understanding the role of self-interest in shaping policy attitudes.
Invisible Coattails: Presidential Approval and Gubernatorial Elections, 1994–2014
Elliott Fullmer & Rebecca Daniel
The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics, July 2018, Pages 269–287
Hoping to insulate their contests from national politics, thirty-six states hold their gubernatorial elections in national midterm election years. Many scholars have assessed whether presidential evaluations nevertheless have an effect on these races, though findings have varied. We offer a new approach to examining this question, relying on underutilized state-level presidential approval data preceding 143 gubernatorial races across six national midterm election cycles. Accounting for the effects of state ideology, gubernatorial approval, campaign spending, state economic performance, and incumbency, we report that presidential approval has a positive and significant effect on the performance of the presidential party in gubernatorial races. The substantive effects are modest, though still potentially meaningful. In the primary specification, an additional six points of presidential approval is associated with about one additional point of gubernatorial vote share.
Beyond Opportunity Costs: Campaign Messages, Anger and Turnout among the Unemployed
Erdem Aytaç, Eli Gavin Rau & Susan Stokes
British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming
Are people under economic stress more or less likely to vote, and why? With large observational datasets and a survey experiment involving unemployed Americans, we show that unemployment depresses participation. But it does so more powerfully when the unemployment rate is low, less powerfully when it is high. Whereas earlier studies have explained lower turnout among the unemployed by stressing the especially high opportunity costs these would-be voters face, our evidence points to the psychological effects of unemployment and of campaign messages about it. When unemployment is high, challengers have an incentive to blame the incumbent, thus eliciting anger among the unemployed. Psychologists have shown anger to be an approach or mobilizing emotion. When joblessness is low, campaigns tend to ignore it. The jobless thus remain in states of depression and self-blame, which are demobilizing emotions.
When are prediction market prices most informative?
Alasdair Brown, James Reade & Leighton Vaughan Williams
International Journal of Forecasting, forthcoming
Prediction markets are a popular platform for the elicitation of incentivised crowd predictions. This paper examines the variation in the information contained in prediction market prices by studying Intrade prices on U.S. elections around the release of opinion polls. We find that poll releases stimulate an immediate uptick in trading activity. However, much of this activity involves relatively inexperienced traders, meaning that the price efficiency declines in the immediate aftermath of a poll release, and does not recover until more experienced traders enter the market in the following hours. More generally, this suggests that information releases do not necessarily improve prediction market forecasts, but instead may attract noise traders who temporarily reduce the price efficiency.