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Candidate Faces and Election Outcomes: Is the Face–Vote Correlation Caused by Candidate Selection?

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  • Atkinson, Matthew D.
  • Enos, Ryan D.
  • Hill, Seth J.

Abstract

We estimate the effect of candidate appearance on vote choice in congressional elections using an original survey instrument. Based on estimates of the facial competence of 972 congressional candidates, we show that in more competitive races the out-party tends to run candidates with higher quality faces. We estimate the direct effect of face on vote choice when controlling for the competitiveness of the contest and for individual partisanship. Combining survey data with our facial quality scores and a measure of contest competitiveness, we find a face quality effect for Senate challengers of about 4 points for independent voters and 1–3 points for partisans. While we estimate face effects that could potentially matter in close elections, we find that the challenging candidate's face is never the difference between a challenger and incumbent victory in all 99 Senate elections in our study.

Suggested Citation

  • Atkinson, Matthew D. & Enos, Ryan D. & Hill, Seth J., 2009. "Candidate Faces and Election Outcomes: Is the Face–Vote Correlation Caused by Candidate Selection?," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 4(3), pages 229-249, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:now:jlqjps:100.00008062
    DOI: 10.1561/100.00008062
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00008062
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    Cited by:

    1. Berggren, Niclas & Jordahl, Henrik & Poutvaara, Panu, 2010. "The Right Look: Conservative Politicians Look Better and Their Voters Reward it," Ratio Working Papers 161, The Ratio Institute.
    2. Berggren, Niclas & Jordahl, Henrik & Poutvaara, Panu, 2017. "The right look: Conservative politicians look better and voters reward it," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 79-86.
    3. Berggren, Niclas & Jordahl, Henrik & Poutvaara, Panu, 2010. "The Right Look: Conservative Politicians Look Better and Their Voters Reward it," Ratio Working Papers 161, The Ratio Institute.
    4. repec:bla:coecpo:v:35:y:2017:i:4:p:677-683 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:gig:joupla:v:6:y:2014:i:2:p:39-72 is not listed on IDEAS

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