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How do voters decide? Preliminary results from a field experiment G. Michael Weiksner Stanford University April 2, 2008.

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Presentation on theme: "How do voters decide? Preliminary results from a field experiment G. Michael Weiksner Stanford University April 2, 2008."— Presentation transcript:

1 How do voters decide? Preliminary results from a field experiment G. Michael Weiksner Stanford University April 2, 2008

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5 Agenda Why local primaries Theory & Predictions Methodology Preliminary Results – A short-term effect – Why?

6 Why local primaries Not well understood In low information environment, information treatment should have a larger impact Regularly occurring – More opportunities to research – Possibility to generalize to large class of elections

7 Theory & Predictions Dahl: A persons interest or good is whatever that person would choose with fullest attainable understanding of the experiences resulting from that choice and its most relevant alternatives – Our information conditions are close to a practical operationalization of full-information votingdoes it make a difference? Are citizens competent under better circumstances? Popkins: Low information rationality, or using heuristics or shortcuts to the information to make decisions – Information should reduce reliance on heuristics, like voting for the candidate who shares my gender

8 Methodology A Randomized Field Experiment Mundane realism: the subjects are in a realistic setting Internal validity: causal inference appropriate through random assignment Generalizable: ideally, random sampling Cheap & easy to administer E.g., Iyengars MAPSS talk, 2/6/07 and Greens talk 2/13/07

9 Methodology (contd) Procedure Orlando primaries, Tues Sept. 5, 2006 – Orlando Sentinel uses theVoterGuide.org to collect candidate data on 22 races including Governor, Senate, Congress, non-partisan judges 514 participants recruited from online panel on Thurs Aug 31 – Skews towards more education, politically aware, male – Randomly assigned to condition differing by kind and amount of election information – 307 participants responded to follow up survey (Sept 6-7) Surveyed on vote intentions, vote choice, attitudes and general and campaign-specific knowledge

10 Research design RX1O1O2RX2O1O2RX3O1O2RX4O1O2RX1O1O2RX2O1O2RX3O1O2RX4O1O2 Party, Vote Choice, Attitudes, Demographics Turnout, Vote Choice, Bio & Issue Knowledge,

11 Contact Information Only

12 Biographical Information

13 Issue Information

14 Random Assignment Contact Information Only Biographical Information Issue information All Information Condition

15 T1 Vote Choice-Executive Likelihood ratio test IssueBio Governor0.024 *0.732 FL Attorney General0.047 *0.134 FL Chief Financial Officer0.046 *0.683 Orange County Mayor0.028 *0.006 **

16 T1 Vote Choice-Legislative Likelihood ratio test IssueBio US Senate US Congress 5th US Congress 8th US Congress 15th US Congress 24th0.008**0.313 Florida Senate - 8th Florida house Florida House *0.072

17 T1 Vote Choice - Judicial Likelihood ratio test IssueBio County Judge – * County Judge – * County Judge – County Judge – Circuit Judge 5th Group Circuit Judge 9th Group ** Circuit Judge 18thF

18 Reduce support for the leading candidate? n = 2,335 voter * races

19 Reduce gender-based voting? n = 1,412 voter * races

20 Percent who vote for candidate of same gender

21 Summary of results No long –term effects Election information makes a difference in local primary vote choice – Issue information changes choices in many executive races – Issue information changes some choices in legislative races – Biographical information changes choices in judicial Some evidence that information affects vote choice through gender -No consistent story (yet?) for why issue information changes vote choice -Among males, biographical information reduces gender-based voting -Among females, biographical information increases gender-based voting

22 Parting thoughts… Memory aids are really important and interesting potential impact of mail & internet voting What is the point of local primaries? Future research: – Can we replicate the gender results in a lab experiment? – How would these results differ in a general election? – Would deliberation make a difference? – What impact does social information (i.e., personal endorsements) have? – Would edited information make a difference? – Does one-sided information make a difference?

23 Random Assignment (contd) AgeFemale Gen'l Political Knowledge NMSDM M No issue info No Bio Bio Issue Info No Bio Bio

24 T2 Vote Choice Likelihood ratio test IssueBioIssueBio Governor Attorney General Cty Judge CFO Cty Judge OC Mayor Cty Judge U.S. House 8Th Cty Judge U.S. House 13Th Crct 5 Judge U.S. House 24Th Crct 9 Judge State Senate Crct 18 Judge State House

25 T1 Results SourcedfFEtap Issue Information Endorsement Knowl. Item Candidates on Issues Biographical Information Endorsement Knowl. Item Candidates on Issues Issue x Biographical Information Endorsement Knowl. Item Candidates on Issues Error Endorsement Knowl. Item Candidates on Issues

26 T1 Vote Choice – Governor Issue InformationBio Information NoYesNoYes Democrats Carol Castagnero Glenn Burkett Jim Davis John M. Crotty Rod Smith Republicans Charlie Crist Michael W. St. J Tom Gallagher Vernon Palmer Likelihood ratio test.024 *.732

27 T1 Results Endorsement Knowledge Item Understand candidates on the issues NMSDM No Issue Info No Bio Info Bio Info Issue Info No Bio Info Bio Info

28 T2 Turnout, Knowledge T2 Turnout T2 Issue Knowledge T2 Biographical Knowledge NMSDM M No issue info No Bio Info Bio Info Issue Info No Bio Info Bio Info


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