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Older, Younger, or More Similar? The Use of Age as a Voting Heuristic


  • Steven W. Webster
  • Andrew W. Pierce


Objective The descriptive representation literature has found that individuals prefer to vote for candidates who share similar characteristics as themselves. However, the relationship between the age of a voter and the age of a candidate is a gap in the literature that remains to be filled. The objective of this study is to examine such relationships. Methods Utilizing the 2010 and 2012 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, along with independently collected information on candidates’ ages, we use a series of logistic regressions to model the relationship between the age of a voter and the age of a co‐partisan candidate. Results Our analyses suggest that a candidate's age can and does act as a voting heuristic for members of the electorate. However, the strength of these findings is dependent upon the electoral context, individuals’ education levels, and the political party with which an individual affiliates. Conclusion The effect of age has been an overlooked heuristic within the voting behavior literature. Members of the electorate prefer to vote for co‐partisan candidates who are closest to themselves in age.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven W. Webster & Andrew W. Pierce, 2019. "Older, Younger, or More Similar? The Use of Age as a Voting Heuristic," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 100(3), pages 635-652, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:socsci:v:100:y:2019:i:3:p:635-652
    DOI: 10.1111/ssqu.12604

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    Cited by:

    1. Ryohei Mogi & Bruno Arpino, 2022. "The association between childlessness and voting turnout in 38 countries," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 47(14), pages 397-414.
    2. Charles McCLEAN & ONO Yoshikuni, 2020. "How Do Voters Evaluate the Age of Politicians?," Discussion papers 20069, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    3. Yonghe Xiao & Jingxuan Li, 2022. "RETRACTED ARTICLE: A conversational analysis of aging in China from a cross-section of the labour market: a corpus-based study," Palgrave Communications, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 9(1), pages 1-7, December.

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