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Race and Gender Cues in Low-Information Elections

Race and Gender Cues in Low-Information Elections Previous research has demonstrated that in low-information elections voters compensate for a lack of information by taking informational short-cuts, based on candidate cues, to make voting decisions. To date, this research has focused on candidate party identification and incumbency cues. This article argues that candidate demographic cues, specifically race and gender, also play an influential role. Unlike past psychological research that focuses on potential voter bias against women or black candidates, this article examines the informational content of voters' stereotypes about women and black candidates, and how these stereotypes affect voting behavior. I use quasi-experimental data from the Los Angeles Times Poll to demonstrate that candidate gender and candidate race signal voters in two different ways. Voters stereotype candidates ideologically: women and black candidates are stereotyped as more liberal than the average white male. Voters also stereotype candidates on issues: black candidates are seen as more concerned with minority rights than whites; while women candidates are viewed as more dedicated to honest government. As a result, voters choose candidates for office based on how much they agree or disagree with the ideological and issue positions they attribute, through stereotyping, to candidates. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Political Research Quarterly SAGE

Race and Gender Cues in Low-Information Elections

Political Research Quarterly , Volume 51 (4): 24 – Dec 1, 1998

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References (31)

Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
Copyright © by SAGE Publications
ISSN
1065-9129
eISSN
1938-274X
DOI
10.1177/106591299805100403
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Previous research has demonstrated that in low-information elections voters compensate for a lack of information by taking informational short-cuts, based on candidate cues, to make voting decisions. To date, this research has focused on candidate party identification and incumbency cues. This article argues that candidate demographic cues, specifically race and gender, also play an influential role. Unlike past psychological research that focuses on potential voter bias against women or black candidates, this article examines the informational content of voters' stereotypes about women and black candidates, and how these stereotypes affect voting behavior. I use quasi-experimental data from the Los Angeles Times Poll to demonstrate that candidate gender and candidate race signal voters in two different ways. Voters stereotype candidates ideologically: women and black candidates are stereotyped as more liberal than the average white male. Voters also stereotype candidates on issues: black candidates are seen as more concerned with minority rights than whites; while women candidates are viewed as more dedicated to honest government. As a result, voters choose candidates for office based on how much they agree or disagree with the ideological and issue positions they attribute, through stereotyping, to candidates.

Journal

Political Research QuarterlySAGE

Published: Dec 1, 1998

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