Elections, Election Administration, and Voting Behavior
Gender and Politics
Research Methods & Research Design
Race, Ethnicity and Politics
Models of voting behavior typically specify that all voters employ identical criteria to evaluate candidates. We argue that moderate voters weigh candidates’ policy/ideological positions far less than non-moderate voters, and we report analyses of survey data from the 2010 Cooperative Congressional Election Study that substantiate these arguments. Across a wide range of models and measurement strategies, we find consistent evidence that liberal and conservative voters are substantially more responsive to candidate ideology than more centrist voters. Simply put, moderate voters appear qualitatively different from liberals and conservatives, a finding that has important implications for candidate strategies and for political representation.
The ascendency of immigration as an issue in elections has been concomitant with massive increases in the Hispanic population in the U.S. We examine how immigration cues prompt greater or lesser levels of restrictionist sentiment among individuals, showing demographic context conditions the effect of candidates cues. Using data from the 2010 U.S. House elections, we illustrate cues presented in new destination states—states with massive increases in the size of theHispanic population from 1990 to 2010—have a larger impact on individuals’ immigration preferences than cues presented in non-new destination contexts. We show candidates with more extreme immigration positions are more likely to prioritize the issue of immigration in their campaigns, suggesting campaign prioritization of immigration has a directional cue. We conclude these directional cues from Republican candidates in new destination contexts move individual attitudes toward restrictionist preferences.
Spatial theories of voting are appealing because they link voters’ electoral choices to candidates’ policy positions. Yet if voters lack political sophistication and awareness of candidate positions, they may not measure up to the cognitive demands of spatial voting models. Using district experts to ascertain House candidates’ positions on the same liberal-conservative scale as in a survey of constituents, we find that proximity voting is common, even among voters unaware of candidates’ ideological positions. Since voting based on party identification or presidential approval often produces votes consistent with the spatial model, such alternative decision rules explain this result by serving as powerful proxies for proximity voting. In addition, facilitator variables such as involvement in politically expert interpersonal networks, the ideological difference between candidates, and voters’ distance from the district ideological cut point help explain proximity voting.
Results from a survey experiment in the 2016 presidential primary suggest that encountering surprises on PolitiFact’s Truth-o-Meter might increase supporters’ enthusiasm toward their candidate and encourage undecided voters to re-evaluate candidates' honesty. It does not, however, appear to cause a positive reevaluation of candidates whom voters oppose. We also find that citizens discredit fact-checking organizations when they don’t like what the fact-check shows - a result particularly disconcerting for proponents of fact-checking.
If it was not for Donald Trump’s presence in the 2016 race, Hillary Clinton would be the least favored presidential candidate there has ever been. At the same time, however, she is rated by fact checkers as being far more honest than Trump or any other primary candidate. Using a survey of Californians, we explore how voters feel about Clinton. We find that Trump’s framing of Clinton as “crooked” has stuck, with most of his supporters describing her as a “liar” and “untrustworthy”. Clinton’s own supporters on the other hand, were more likely to describe her as “experienced”, “smart” and “strong”. On gender lines, women tend to describe Clinton more positively compared to men, and also note her gender.