Do campaign posters trigger voting based on looks? : Probing an explanation for why good-looking candidates win more votes

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Numerous studies document that better-looking candidates win more votes. Yet the causal mechanisms leading to this advantage remain unexplored. We consider for the first time a potential trigger of the looks–vote association that has previously been suggested but not tested in the literature: exposure to campaign posters of the candidates. We test this explanation with German election survey data, which we augment with ratings—provided by MTurk workers from the U.S.—of the attractiveness and facial competence of about 1,000 district candidates. Confirming previous studies on Germany, we find that attractiveness is positively associated with candidate vote share (1.2 ppts. min–max). At the voter level, we find tentative evidence for the idea that the association is moderated by exposure to campaign posters: effects are in the expected directions and their sizes consistent with what we observe at the candidate level, but we cannot always reject the null hypothesis of no effect. In contrast to attractiveness, we do not find conclusive evidence for an effect of facial competence in the election considered. These preliminary results suggest that inundating voters with candidate posters, as in elections in Germany and many other places, might be a reason for voting based on looks.

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320 Politik
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Candidate appearance, Attractiveness, Competence, Campaign poste
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ISO 690HERRMANN, Michael, Susumu SHIKANO, 2021. Do campaign posters trigger voting based on looks? : Probing an explanation for why good-looking candidates win more votes. In: Acta Politica. Springer. 2021, 56(3), pp. 416-435. ISSN 0001-6810. eISSN 1741-1416. Available under: doi: 10.1057/s41269-020-00159-3
BibTex
@article{Herrmann2021-07campa-49708,
  year={2021},
  doi={10.1057/s41269-020-00159-3},
  title={Do campaign posters trigger voting based on looks? : Probing an explanation for why good-looking candidates win more votes},
  number={3},
  volume={56},
  issn={0001-6810},
  journal={Acta Politica},
  pages={416--435},
  author={Herrmann, Michael and Shikano, Susumu}
}
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