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Shana Gadarian article on how information helps voters published in Urban Affairs Review

Mar 15, 2019

Voting Can Be Hard, Information Helps

Melody Crowder-Meyer, Shana Kushner Gadarian & Jessica Trounstine

Urban Affairs Review, February 2019

Shana Kushner Gadarian

Shana Kushner Gadarian


Many U.S. elections provide voters with precious little information about candidates on the ballot. In local contests, party labels are often absent. In primary elections, party labels are not useful. Indeed, much of the time, voters have only the name of the candidate to go by. In these contexts, how do voters make decisions?

Using several experiments, we find that voters use candidates’ race, ethnicity, and gender as cues for whom to support—penalizing candidates of color and benefiting women. But we also demonstrate that providing even a small amount of information to voters—such as candidate occupation—virtually erases the effects of candidate demographics on voter behavior, even among voters with high levels of racial and gender prejudice.

Campbell Public Affairs Institute
306 Eggers Hall