A Natural Experiment on Discrimination in Elections
102 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2017 Last revised: 28 Jan 2020
Date Written: January 27, 2020
We exploit a natural experiment to study discrimination in elections. In Illinois Republican presidential primaries, voters vote for delegates bound to presidential candidates, but delegates' names convey information about their race and gender. We identify discrimination from variation in vote totals among delegates bound to the same presidential candidate and who face the same voters. Examining delegate vote totals from 2000 to 2016, we estimate nonwhite delegates receive 9 percent fewer votes. We find essentially no gender discrimination. Negligible incentives for statistical discrimination, costs to preferred presidential candidates, and heterogeneity are consistent with an interpretation of this behavior as taste-based.
Keywords: Taste-Based, Racial Discrimination, Voter Behavior
JEL Classification: D72, J15
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