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Thin-Slice Forecasts of Gubernatorial Elections

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  • Daniel J. Benjamin

    (Cornell University and Institute for Social Research)

  • Jesse M. Shapiro

    (University of Chicago and NBER)

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    Abstract

    We showed 10-second silent video clips of unfamiliar gubernatorial debates to a group of experimental participants and asked them to predict the election outcomes. The participants' predictions explain more than 20% of the variation in the actual two-party vote share across the 58 elections in our study, and their importance survives a range of controls, including state fixed effects. In a horse race of alternative forecasting models, participants' forecasts significantly outperform economic variables in predicting vote shares and are comparable in predictive power to a measure of incumbency status. Participants' forecasts seem to rest on judgments of candidates' personal attributes (such as likability) rather than inferences about candidates' policy positions. Though conclusive causal inference is not possible in our context, our findings may be seen as suggestive evidence of a causal effect of candidate appeal on election outcomes. Copyright by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Review of Economics and Statistics.

    Volume (Year): 91 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 3 (August)
    Pages: 523-536

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    Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:91:y:2009:i:3:p:523-536

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    Cited by:
    1. Ben Greiner & Werner Güth & Ro'i Zultan, 2010. "Social Communication and Discrimination: A Video Experiment," Jena Economic Research Papers, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics 2010-038, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
    2. Berggren, Niclas & Jordahl, Henrik & Poutvaara, Panu, 2010. "The looks of a winner: Beauty and electoral success," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 94(1-2), pages 8-15, February.
    3. Berggren, Niclas & Jordahl, Henrik & Poutvaara, Panu, 2010. "The Right Look: Conservative Politicians Look Better and Their Voters Reward it," Ratio Working Papers, The Ratio Institute 161, The Ratio Institute.
    4. Ryan W. Buell & Tami Kim & Chia-Jung Tsay, 2014. "Creating Reciprocal Value Through Operational Transparency," Harvard Business School Working Papers, Harvard Business School 14-115, Harvard Business School.
    5. Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Abrevaya, Jason, 2011. ""Beauty Is the Promise of Happiness"?," IZA Discussion Papers 5600, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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