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Do young voters vote for young leaders?

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Abstract

A growing body of literature shows that voters tend to vote for candidates who share their own socio-demographic profile. A key reason for this is because they believe those candidates are more likely to promote their preferences and interests. If political representation is important to voters, we might expect young voters to demand better descriptive representation by supporting younger politicians. Recent studies have found an age affinity for turnout and vote choice. However, none of these studies are comparative or focus on leaders. Using cross-national data from the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems project, covering about 853,414 individual voters, 51 countries,126 elections, and 639 unique leaders, I test the hypotheses that a leader is more popular among voters closer to them in age and that such voters are more likely to vote for them. I find some support for both hypotheses though the effects are very small.

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... Does the local proximity of party leaders affect their popularity among voters from the same region? Previous literature has extensively discussed and examined the importance of leaders' sociodemographic characteristicssuch as gender, age and ethnicityin politics and voting behavior (Sigelman et al., 1995;Banducci and Karp, 2000;Cutler, 2002;Aarts et al., 2011;Lobo and Curtice, 2015;O'Brien, 2019;Sevi, 2020). Given the current trend towards personalization of politics (e.g. ...
... As regards the first part, the modeling strategy follows the example of Sevi (2020), who focuses on the role of leader age and presents two sets of ordinary least squares (OLS) regression models with two-way clustered standard errors by respondent and leader. 3 Similarly to the leader age study, country and party family fixed effects are included to account for any unobserved heterogeneity related to differences between countries or party families in terms of the importance of leader location. ...
... As regards party vote choice, voters in suburban areas and small towns are less Note: Standard errors are indicated between brackets and are two way clustered by respondent and party leader * p < 0.05, **p < 0.01, ***p < 0.001. 5 Following Angrist and Pischke (2008) and Sevi (2020), I use OLS instead of binary logit to analyze the dichotomous response variable 'vote choice', as the coefficients of such a linear probability model can be interpreted directly in terms of probability change. The vote choice models only includes respondents who indicated to have casted a vote in the election. ...
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Theory: Group identity and issue salience theories are used to explore the impact of candidate gender on voting behavior in congressional elections. Hypotheses: Support for women congressional candidates will be higher among voters who share certain demographic and attitudinal characteristics. Methods: Logistic analysis of the 1992 American National Election Study data is conducted. Results: Women voters are more likely to support women House candidates than are men and are also more likely to use gender-related issue positions in determining their vote choice when there is a woman candidate. In Senate elections, issues are much more important to determining vote choice than in House elections. Here women again exhibit distinctly different issue concerns than men and employ a greater number of gender-related issue concerns in their evaluations.
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There are two distinct bodies of research on candidate gender. The first argues that voters are not biased against female candidates. These studies are usually based on aggregate analyses of the success rates of male and female candidates. The second body of research argues that voters employ gender stereotypes when they evaluate candidates. These studies are usually based on experiments which manipulate candidate gender. This study seeks to unite these literatures by incorporating gender stereotypes and hypothetical vote questions involving two candidates in one model I argue that many voters have a baseline gender preference to vote for male over female candidates, or female over male candidates. Using original survey data, I find that this general predisposition or preference can be explained by gender stereotypes about candidate traits, beliefs, and issue competencies, and by voter gender. I also argue that this baseline preference affects voting behavior.
Article
In order to assess the impact of candidate characteristics and condidate-voter similarity on voting preferences, descriptions of candidates were presented to 1,158 voters in a simulated mayoral election. Five experimental candidates-white female, black female, black male, young white male, and elderly white male-were pitted in two-candidate races against a middle-aged, white male opponent. Ageism in voting patterns was stronger overall than either sexism or racism. The hypothesis that similarity breeds attraction received strong support in the form of pro-female bias among women, pro-black bias among blacks, and pro-white male bias among white males.
Article
Many hypothesize that the election of more women to the U.S. Congress is more than simply an issue of equity, but will make a substantive policy difference. I test this hypothesis by analyzing the voting records of all representatives in the 103d Congress on a set of women's issues. It is my premise that women will not necessarily exhibit a more liberal ideology than their male counterparts on all issues; however, the more directly an issue affects women, the more likely it is that women will vote together across party lines. The results of regression analysis on the composite score of women's issue votes indicate that gender exerts a significant and independent effect on voting for women's issues in the face of controls for other major influences on congressional voting These influences include constituency factors, party, personal characteristics, and ideology. Interaction terms for gender by party indicate that much of the impact of gender is due to the influence of Republican women. Logit analysis of the individual votes demonstrates that the gender of the representative was most significant on votes that dealt with abortion and women's health. The influence of gender was overwhelmed by other factors such as party, ideology, and constituency concerns on votes that were less directly related to women, such as education.
Article
This study examines the descriptive representation of younger age cohorts in Asian parliaments. Drawing from literature on women's parliamentary representation, it develops the hypothesis that proportional representation (PR) elections provide more incentives for the inclusion of younger representatives than do single-member district plurality (SMDP) electoral systems. Analysing an original dataset of over four thousand MPs from 14 countries, I find support for the argument that PR electoral systems favour the election of younger MPs even after controlling for multiple alternative explanations.
Article
This paper examines how ageing and generational formative experiences affect vote choices in Britain. Using a combination of panel data and assumptions about party fortunes we estimate ageing effects. These are then entered into a model using cross-sectional data from 1964 to 2010 to estimate generational differences in vote choice. Ageing increases the likelihood of a Conservative vote substantially, but there is no trend towards lower rates of Conservative voting among newer generations. There are however identifiable political generations corresponding with periods of Conservative dominance: voters who came of age in the 1930s, 1950s and 1980s are ceteris paribus somewhat more Conservative. Our method therefore lends some support to theories of political generations, but also demonstrates the considerable impact of ageing on vote choice.
Article
This article focuses on the link between the representation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in national legislatures and the existence of equality laws focused on sexual orientation. It addresses three interrelated questions: how many “out” LGBT legislators have served in national parliaments, what explains the cross-national variation in their legislative presence, and what is the relationship between the presence of gay legislators and the enactment of laws that treat gay and straight citizens equally? There is an established literature arguing that the representation of women and ethnic minorities “descriptively” in national legislatures improves the realization of their policy preferences and the position of the group within the society as a whole. This article draws on that literature and extends the analysis to LGBT communities. It finds that the presence of even a small number of openly gay legislators is associated significantly with the future passage of enhanced gay rights, even after including controls for social values, democracy, government ideology, and electoral system design. Once openly gay legislators are in office they have a transformative effect on the views and voting behavior of their straight colleagues. This “familiarity through presence” effect is echoed in studies of U.S. state legislatures and levels of social tolerance of homosexuality in the population at large.
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The 2008 election marked an end to the longstanding gap in the level of black and white voter turnout, offering further evidence that minority empowerment affects voter turnout. In this article, the authors move beyond a dyadic conceptualization of empowerment and argue that the level of descriptive representation within the legislative body as a whole is crucial to understanding how context affects voter turnout. They find African Americans and Latinos are more likely to vote when residing in states with increased descriptive representation in the state legislature measured by the percentage of black or Latino lawmakers.
Article
This research hypothesizes that, because of the particular stimulation provided by the focus on candidate sex and gender-related issues in the electoral environment, there was a unique set of demographic and attitudinal variables related to voting for a woman candidate for the House of Representatives in 1992. Because the environments of the elections of 1994 and 1996 were relatively “gender-free,” these variables were not related to voting behavior in these years. The analysis supports the hypothesis that the determinants of support for women congressional candidates are different in 1992 than in subsequent elections. It also suggests that the differing environments of the three elections may be a contributing factor to these differences.
Article
Dans les discussions qui traitent de la réforme du système électoral au Canada on prétend que le système actuel répartit d'une manière efficace les responsabilités et les possibilités d'action de telle sorte que les députés s'occupent des préoccupations des électeurs et servent d'intermédiaires entre eux et un système gouvernemental qui sans cela paraît anonyme dans son étendue. On étudie cette proposition à la lumière et de l'ensemble des informations disponibles et des données fournies par une enquéte (ces dernières données proviennent en grande partie mais non en totalité d'une étude faite sur les élections canadiennes de 1979). Les résultats les plus importants prouvent que les députés canadiens sont plus accessibles et plus utiles à leurs électeurs que leurs collègues britanniques, quoique les deux groupes aient, et ce n'est pas surprenant, plus de contacts avec les électeurs actifs qu'avec le reste des électeurs. Et pourtant l'importance donnée au député local par les électeurs quant au vote a diminué depuis 1965; par contre, les évaluations des candidats d'un parti dépendent bien plus de l'approbation de leur parti (et à un degré moindre de l'image de leur chef) que des relations ou des services rendus par le député. Bien que l'on puisse connaître, en utilisant l'ensemble des informations, les candidats qui semblent surpasser l'ensemble des candidats de leur parti ou, au contraire, ne pas arriver à leur hauteur durant cette période de fluctuation qui sépare les élections, leurs activités, jugées inférieures ou supérieures selon le cas, ne sont pas recompensées par le système électoral. Si les activités de tous les candidats étaient conformes à la moyenne de leur parti, une minorité de sièges seulement passerait au parti adverse. On pourraitfaire remarquer, en terminant, qu'en depit de la publicité faite autour des services rendus par un député ces services n'ont qu'unfaible rapport avec une augmentation de la perception de la conjoncture politique. Quelques députes rendent de grands services—leur nombre est trop restreint—et pourtant ils ne peuvent pas se mettre à la disposition d'un assez grand nombre de personnes, même dans leur circonscription, pour établir une liaison efficace entre la population et le gouvernment.
Article
This article reports the results of a content analysis of election-related headlines in Canada's two English-language national newspapers, The Globe and Mail and The National Post, over the course of the 36-day 2000 federal election campaign. The authors find that the two national newspapers' headlines revealed differences in issue emphasis, leader portrayals and party assessment. Yet both newspapers embraced a "game frame" for election coverage - by focusing on the horse-race, leader personalities and campaign strategies - to the neglect of campaign issues and ideological distinctions between parties. These findings suggest that media game framing can result in troublesome consequences for constructive citizen engagement in election activities.
Article
Disadvantaged groups gain advantages from descriptive representation in at least four contexts. In contexts of group mistrust and uncrystallized interests, the better communication and experiential knowledge of descriptive representatives enhances their substantive representation of the group's interests by improving the quality of deliberation. In contexts of historical political subordination and low de facto legitimacy, descriptive representation helps create a social meaning of "ability to rule" and increases the attachment to the polity of members of the group. When the implementation of descriptive representation involves some costs in other values, paying those costs makes most sense in these specific historical contexts.
Article
One thousand five hundred and seven voters aged 18 to over 75 from many different geographical areas were presented with pairs of candidates in a simulated mayoral election who differed in sex, race, or age and were asked to “vote.” Results confirmed the conclusions of previous research on undergraduate students (Sigelman & Sigelman, 1982), which found a stronger effect of the age of candidates than of either their sex or their race on voting, and also demonstrated race and sex similarity effects in voting preference. The present study also demonstrated a significant age-similarity effect. Voters over 65 showed a marked “reverse ageism” effect, actively preferring the older of any pair of candidates that differed significantly in age. Complex effects of the race and sex of experimenters on voting preference, interpreted as salience effects, were also obtained. Implications for actual electoral outcomes in the situation of an aging population are discussed.
Article
This research examines whether citizens utilize gender stereotypes to infer candidates' ideological orientations. Analysis of data from the 1988-1990-1992 Pooled Senate Election Study reveals that even after candidates' individuating ideological orientations are taken into account, candidate gender still exerts substantial effects on citizens' perceptions of candidates' ideological orientations. The consequences of gender stereotypes for vote choice are important but differ for Democrats and Republicans. For Democratic female candidates, gender ideological stereotypes increase the distance between female candidates and voters, increasing the likelihood citizens will vote for the Republican opponent, ceteris paribus. For Republican female candidates, gender stereotypes for ideology reduce the distance between them and most voters, thereby increasing their electoral prospects.
Article
We use a field experiment to investigate whether race affects how responsive state legislators are to requests for help with registering to vote. In an email sent to each legislator, we randomized whether a putatively black or white alias was used and whether the email signaled the sender's partisan preference. Overall, we find that putatively black requests receive fewer replies. We explore two potential explanations for this discrimination: strategic partisan behavior and the legislators’ own race. We find that the putatively black alias continues to be differentially treated even when the emails signal partisanship, indicating that strategic considerations cannot completely explain the observed differential treatment. Further analysis reveals that white legislators of both parties exhibit similar levels of discrimination against the black alias. Minority legislators do the opposite, responding more frequently to the black alias. Implications for the study of race and politics in the United States are discussed.
Article
According to the minority empowerment thesis, minority representation strengthens representational links, fosters more positive attitudes toward government, and encourages political participation. We examine this theory from a cross-national perspective, making use of surveys that sampled minorities in the United States and New Zealand. Both countries incorporate structures into their electoral systems that make it possible for minority groups to elect representatives of their choice. We find that in both countries descriptive representation matters: it increases knowledge about and contact with representatives in the U.S. and leads to more positive evaluations of governmental responsiveness and increased electoral participation in New Zealand. These findings have broad implications for debates about minority representation.
Article
One argument advanced in favor of descriptive representation is that female politicians serve as role models, inspiring other women to political activity. While previous research finds female role models affect women's psychological engagement, few studies report an impact on women's active participation, and none have done so in cross-national research. Our work also is the first to consider whether the impact of female role models is, as the term implies, greater among the young. Using three cross-national datasets, we find that where there are more female members of parliament (MPs), adolescent girls are more likely to discuss politics with friends and to intend to participate in politics as adults, and adult women are more likely to discuss and participate in politics. The presence of female MPs registers the same effect on political discussion regardless of age, but the impact on women's political activity is far greater among the young than the old.
Article
The American public expresses considerable consensus on those qualities of character and performance indispensable to a modern president. Contrary to expectations, however, such conceptions of an ideal president (or presidential prototypes) generally failed to provide standards by which actual presidential candidates were evaluated. Across five complementary tests, qualities that citizens thought important for an ideal president counted no more heavily in their evaluations of presidential hopefuls than did qualities thought less important—with one consistent and striking exception. Conceptions of an ideal president did set the standards by which the incumbent president was evaluated, and quite powerfully so. In the final section of the paper, we provide several interpretations of these results, suggest how public conceptions of an ideal president are acquired, and speculate about processes of presidential appraisal.
Article
There is evidence of a realignment among voters entering the electorate in recent years, with younger voters deviating from older voters in their ideological and partisan preferences. Younger voters today tend to be more liberal and more supportive of Democratic candidates than other age groups. Younger Americans are generally favor a more activist government, as demonstrated by their views on equality, the role of government, health care, and spending for public schools and child care. The leftward movement of younger Americans ideologically is also the result of the increasing political emphasis on cultural issues. Younger Americans as a group are less religious and less conservative on social issues than other age cohorts. They put less emphasis on traditional values and are more tolerant than other age groups on social issues such as gay rights. Older voters, on the other hand, tend to be more conservative on policy issues and less supportive of Democrats than they used to be. At the state level, the partisan polarization in the United States is even greater among younger Americans than it is for the nation as a whole. This suggests that if younger Americans follow other generations in keeping the same partisan voting patterns throughout their life, the blue states will become bluer and the red states redder.
Article
In 1992 a record 14 women sought statewide office by running “as women” and as representatives of women. In this article we examine whether their appeals led to widespread vot ing on the basis of gender identity. We find evidence that the sex of the voter is significantly related to voting for female candidates in eight of 13 states, and among partisans of both parties as well as Independents. Further, we find that these effects are amplified by Democratic female candidates who are rated as most feminist, and that this is especially the case for those with no partisan attachments.