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Thin-Slice Forecasts of Gubernatorial Elections

Author

Listed:
  • Daniel J. Benjamin

    (Cornell University and Institute for Social Research)

  • Jesse M. Shapiro

    (University of Chicago and NBER)

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel J. Benjamin & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2009. "Thin-Slice Forecasts of Gubernatorial Elections," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(3), pages 523-536, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:91:y:2009:i:3:p:523-536
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Niclas Berggren & Henrik Jordahl & Panu Poutvaara, 2010. "The Right Look: Conservative Politicians Look Better and their Voters Reward it," CESifo Working Paper Series 3310, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Ben Greiner & Werner Güth & Ro’i Zultan, 2012. "Social communication and discrimination: a video experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 15(3), pages 398-417, September.
    3. Stephens-Davidowitz, Seth, 2014. "The cost of racial animus on a black candidate: Evidence using Google search data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 26-40.
    4. Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Abrevaya, Jason, 2013. "Beauty is the promise of happiness?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 351-368.
    5. Berggren, Niclas & Jordahl, Henrik & Poutvaara, Panu, 2010. "The looks of a winner: Beauty and electoral success," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1-2), pages 8-15, February.
    6. repec:bla:coecpo:v:35:y:2017:i:4:p:677-683 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. 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.
    8. Berggren, Niclas & Jordahl, Henrik & Poutvaara, Panu, 2006. "The Looks of a Winner: Beauty, Gender and Electoral Success," Ratio Working Papers 104, The Ratio Institute.
    9. Ryan W. Buell & Tami Kim & Chia-Jung Tsay, 2014. "Creating Reciprocal Value Through Operational Transparency," Harvard Business School Working Papers 14-115, Harvard Business School, revised Sep 2015.
    10. Oleg V. Petrenko & Federico Aime & Jason Ridge & Aaron Hill, 2016. "Corporate social responsibility or CEO narcissism? CSR motivations and organizational performance," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(2), pages 262-279, February.
    11. Rebekah Herrick & Jeanette Morehouse Mendez & Ben Pryor, 2015. "Razor's Edge: The Politics of Facial Hair," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1301-1313, November.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets

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