Winter is coming
Knockout Blows or the Status Quo? Momentum in the 2016 Primaries
Joshua Clinton, Andrew Engelhardt & Marc Trussler
Journal of Politics, July 2019, Pages 997-1013
Notions of momentum loom large in accounts of presidential primaries despite imprecision about its meaning and measurement. Defining momentum as the impact election outcomes have on candidate support above and beyond existing trends and leveraging a rolling cross section of more than 325,000 interviews to examine daily changes in candidate support in the 2016 nomination contests reveal scant evidence that primary election outcomes uniquely affect respondents’ preferences over the competing candidates. Preferences sometimes respond to election outcomes, but the estimated effects are indistinguishable from effects occurring on nonelection days. There is also no evidence that those who should be most receptive to new information are more affected by election outcomes. As a result, our investigation strongly suggests that election outcomes are not uniquely important for affecting opinions and shaping the outcome of nomination contests.
Authoritarianism and support for Trump in the 2016 presidential election
Jonathan Knuckey & Komysha Hassan
Social Science Journal, forthcoming
The emergence of authoritarianism as a core political value has been emphasized by recent scholarship on the political behavior of the American electorate. This paper adds to this literature by examining the effect of authoritarianism in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Given the campaign style of Trump and the issues that he made salient in his campaign, it is hypothesized that authoritarianism should have a substantial effect on vote choice of whites. Using data from the American National Election Studies (ANES), logistic regression models of presidential vote choice of white respondents are estimated to ascertain the effect of authoritarianism in presidential elections from 1992 to 2016, controlling for party identification, ideology and several standard demographic control variables. Findings indicate that authoritarianism had the largest effect on white vote choice in 2016 than in any prior election that was analyzed. The candidacy of Trump appears to have been the triggering mechanism given that authoritarianism was a less salient predictor of U.S. House vote choice in 2016. Moreover, this relationship was true for both college and non-college educated whites. Authoritarianism also seems to have been primed by Trump appealing to racial animus, anti-immigration sentiment, nativism, and anti-Muslim prejudice. Authoritarianism is likely to remain a salient determinant of vote choice during the Trump era. Indeed, a widening and deepening of this cleavage means its effects are likely to be apparent in elections below the presidency.
MIT Working Paper, June 2019
Why are women and people of color underrepresented in US politics? This paper offers a new explanation: strategic discrimination. Strategic discrimination occurs when an individual discriminates against a candidate out of concern that others will object to the candidate's identity. In two separate experiments, I find that strategic discrimination exists, and it matters for real-world politics. In the abstract, Americans consider white men more "electable" than equally qualified black and female candidates. Additionally, concerns about winning the votes of white men can cause voters to rate black and female Democratic candidates as less capable of beating Donald Trump in 2020. Especially in an era of extreme polarization, party leaders, donors, and primary voters may gravitate toward white male candidates who feel like a safe bet, rather than taking a chance on a woman or a person of color whose path to victory seems less clear. That’s strategic discrimination in action.
“I Didn’t Lie, I Misspoke”: Voters’ Responses to Questionable Campaign Claims
Elizabeth Simas & Doug Murdoch
Journal of Experimental Political Science, forthcoming
Lies and half-truths are commonplace in US politics. While there is a growing literature examining questionable statements, relatively little attention has been given to the consequences that befall the sources. We address this gap by looking at how a candidate’s sex shapes citizens’ reactions to a factually dubious statement. We argue and show that subjects from the opposing party display a greater desire and tendency to punish a female candidate. Subjects from the candidate’s same party, however, appear to be more forgiving when the candidate is portrayed as a woman versus a man. In total, our findings suggest that gender and partisan biases may operate in tandem to both help and harm female political candidates who “misspeak.”
Voter Reasoning Bias When Evaluating Statements from Female and Male Political Candidates
Jens Koed Madsen
Politics & Gender, June 2019, Pages 310-335
The article examines whether female political candidates are disfavored in terms of persuasiveness potential based on their expertise and trustworthiness. Using a Bayesian argumentation paradigm in which candidates endorse policies, this study shows that male voters regard female candidates as less persuasive than male candidates. A controlled between-subjects experiment among 202 potential voters in the United States suggests that female election candidates are subject to sex biases in two central ways. First, despite agreeing on their trustworthiness and expertise, male voters find highly credible female candidates less persuasive than identical male candidates. Second, female candidates are affected more adversely if they are perceived as lacking in trustworthiness. Male candidates, on the other hand, are affected more negatively if they are perceived as lacking in expertise. Whereas perceived lack of expertise is relatively easy to repair, trustworthiness may be difficult to regain once it is lost. In a political environment in which attack ads are prevalent, this may carry a greater negative impact for female candidates.
The Monstrous Election: Horror Framing in Televised Campaign Advertisements during the 2016 Presidential Election
Rhetoric & Public Affairs, Summer 2019, Pages 281-321
American politics and horror have been linked since the birth of the United States. Within this genre, two frames of horror are common: the classic and the conflicted. The 2016 presidential campaign advertisements of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton employed these horror frames in vastly different ways. Analysis of these ads as a part of an extended message to the American public reveals that Clinton primarily used a conflicted horror frame when attacking Trump, with some rare usage of the classic horror frame. Further, her campaign gave little in the way of audience efficacy through positive assessments of herself, specific policy proposals to defeat the monster, or calls for collective, mob action. Trump, however, almost exclusively used the classic horror frame to articulate threats to America. Even though this frame is more conducive to conventional demonization and fear mongering, Trump also included specific policy proposals, numerous positive assessments of himself, and a call for mob action by American voters to slay the monsters facing the country.
The Clinton Effect? The (Non)Impact of a High‐Profile Candidate on Gender Stereotypes
Mileah Kromer & Janine Parry
Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming
Methods: We randomly assigned respondents in four statewide polls either to receive a cue about Hillary Clinton followed by a battery of questions about women in politics generally, or to hear only the women in politics battery.
Results: Drawing on scholarship from social psychology about the role of exemplars in auto evaluation, our results indicate that most individuals still hold gendered perceptions toward women in public office, but also that pushing the Clinton button first neither diminishes nor aggravates gendered expectations broadly. This is true even among males and Republicans, whom past scholarship suggests would be most susceptible to exemplar effects, and regardless of whether respondents were primed to think about Clinton as a diplomat or a candidate.
Presidential Referendum Effects in the 2018 Midterm Election: An Initial Analysis
Presidential Studies Quarterly, forthcoming
Using the recently released American National Election Studies (ANES) 2018 Pilot Study, this article tests for presidential referendum effects in House, Senate, and gubernatorial contests during that election cycle. Results find strong presidential referendum effects in spite of the considerable correlation between presidential approval and several political predispositions, notably partisan and ideological identification. Weak electoral performance of Republican candidates was due to President Donald Trump's overall low approval ratings. However, Trump approvers appeared more inclined to turn out to vote than disapprovers, which softened the negative effect of Trump's weak approval polls on Republican candidate vote totals. The conclusion discusses the potential implications of these findings for the upcoming 2020 presidential elections, especially if Trump approvers continue their turnout advantage over disapprovers.
Bargain Shopping: How Candidate Sex Lowers the Cost of Voting
Heather Ondercin & Sarah Fulton
Politics & Gender, forthcoming
Previous research shows that candidate sex serves as a heuristic that lessens the informational burden of political decision making. Building upon this research, we investigate the heuristic effects of candidate sex on the decision to turnout to vote in an election. We posit that by providing ideological and nonideological information about the candidates, candidate sex serves as an informational shortcut that reduces the costs associated with voting and enhances the likelihood of voting in elections when a female candidate is present. Our expectations are supported, even after controlling for a variety of individual-, candidate- and district-level characteristics that are correlated with turnout. Individuals are more likely to turnout in elections featuring a woman candidate, and consistent with our expectations, these effects are especially strong for female Democrats, whose sex and party heuristics convey a consistent “liberal” cue. Our research offers theoretical and empirical contributions to the literature on gender, candidate heuristics, and voter turnout.
Cross-Pressure and Voting Behavior: Evidence from Randomized Experiments
Kyle Endres & Costas Panagopoulos
Journal of Politics, July 2019, Pages 1090-1095
Cross-pressured partisans are commonly viewed as persuadable, and campaigns routinely target these voters in elections. Yet evidence of the causal impact of policy cross-pressures on voting behavior is limited. We deployed randomized experiments to examine whether (and how) nonpartisan information that highlighted policy cross-pressures affected voting in the 2015 Kentucky gubernatorial election. Our results suggest partisans conflicted with their party’s gubernatorial nominee on the issue of Kynect, Kentucky’s health-care exchange, who were exposed to information about the candidates’ positions were more likely to report defection intentions in a preelection survey, but these did not necessarily materialize on Election Day. Information exposure seems to have produced few discernible effects on voting overall, based on self-reports in postelection surveys we conducted, but an examination of validated voting records suggests cross-pressured partisans were generally more likely to abstain when provided with the policy positions of both gubernatorial candidates.
A Feminine Advantage? Delineating the Effects of Feminine Trait and Feminine Issue Messages on Evaluations of Female Candidates
Politics & Gender, forthcoming
Current scholarship offers conflicting conclusions about whether female candidates have a feminine advantage or a disadvantage. Previous work does not consider whether voters respond similarly to all types of messages that might emphasize feminine stereotypes, such as feminine trait and feminine issue messages. I argue that voters will respond differently to trait-based feminine messages relative to issue-based feminine messages. I test the effects of trait-based and issue-based feminine messages through two survey experiments. The results consistently show that emphasizing feminine traits harms female candidates, whereas emphasizing feminine issues helps female candidates. I use role congruity theory to argue that feminine traits activate feminine stereotypes about women, and feminine issues do not activate these stereotypes. I also show that trait-based and issue-based feminine messages affect Democratic and Republican female candidates in very different ways. These results have implications for the ability of women to win elected office and reverse the pervasive underrepresentation of women in politics.
Conventional Wisdom? Analyzing Public Support for a State Constitutional Convention Referendum
Daniel Lewis, Jack Collens & Leonard Cutler
State and Local Government Review, March 2019, Pages 19-33
Although fourteen American states periodically hold automatic referendums on whether to hold a state constitutional convention, no state has approved a constitutional convention referendum since 1984. This study explores the puzzle of why voters would oppose an opportunity to broadly reform state government and the factors that underlie these attitudes. Analyses of two statewide surveys of registered voters in New York during the 2017 Constitutional Convention Referendum campaign reveal that campaign framing, elite cues, and instrumental concerns have led voters to take risk-averse positions in order to minimize potential losses that could result from a constitutional convention.
Social Network Disagreement and Reasoned Candidate Preferences
Pierce Ekstrom et al.
American Politics Research, forthcoming
This study investigates the effects of social network disagreement on candidate preferences. Although much research has explored the effects of disagreement on political tolerance and disengagement, less work has examined the relation between disagreement and political reasoning. We predicted that because disagreement reveals conflicting points of view and motivates people to consider these views, it should promote more effortful reasoning - and thus increased reliance on policy preferences and decreased reliance on party identification when choosing between candidates. Using panel data from the 2008 and 2012 U.S. Presidential elections, we find that respondents in high-disagreement networks tend to shift their candidate preferences to align with their policy preferences regardless of their party identification. In low-disagreement networks, respondents tended to follow party over policy. In sum, the determinants of candidate preferences differ depending on individuals’ social networks. In some cases, disagreement may promote more normatively desirable political decision-making.
Vote centers and turnout by election type in Texas
Jeronimo Cortina & Brandon Rottinghaus
Research & Politics, July 2019
The use of vote centers - specific locations in a county where all voters will vote - is on the rise nationwide, as more than a dozen states used this process by 2018. More states are moving toward using voting centers to remedy the problem of low voter turnout, with the assumption that the centralization of voting to several core county locations will increase voter accessibility. What we have less clear information about is the effect of vote centers on turnout in individual elections across several cycles. Using a natural experiment in Texas - a state that has three fixed election cycles - we find vote centers have a small positive impact on traditionally lower turnout elections but no effect on higher turnout elections. The cumulative impact of vote centers has a small effect on turnout over time. These results suggest a more cautious assessment is needed when considering the use and impact of vote centers.