Party Labels and Vote Choice in Judicial Elections
34 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2012 Last revised: 22 Jul 2014
Date Written: June 19, 2014
The vast majority of states use elections to select at least some of their judges. The chief institutional variation in these contests is whether the candidates’ partisanship appears on the ballot. This paper expands on the extant literature with new data to examine how providing a party label influences voters’ decisions. Using a survey experiment involving a low visibility state appellate court, we find that affixing party labels to judicial candidates often helps our subjects select the candidate who is most aligned with their own party attachment and with their policy interests — an outcome that is especially notable for self-identified independents. We also show that the presence of party labels reduces the effect of another cue, gender. The results add context to the debate over the merits and drawbacks of partisan versus nonpartisan elections.
Keywords: judicial elections, nonpartisan elections, information shortcuts, gender cue, cues, party identification
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