He Said, She Said: The Impact of Candidate Gender in Negative Campaigns

47 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2013

See all articles by Stephen Craig

Stephen Craig

Professor, University of Florida

Paulina Rippere

Jacksonville University

Date Written: 2013


Although there is evidence that negative advertising “works” at least some of the time, it has been suggested that going negative poses a special risk for female candidates because it violates expectations about appropriate behavior that are rooted in the traditional gender stereotypes still held by many voters. In this paper, we employ data from a survey experiment to examine gender differences in the effectiveness of one particular attack made by a challenger against an incumbent of the opposite sex in a hypothetical race for the U.S. House of Representatives. Our interest is not limited to the attack itself, however, but extends to the question of how candidates should respond when they are attacked and whether certain types of responses/rebuttals (including counterattacks) work better for men than they do for women, and vice versa, in terms of mitigating the damage inflicted by an initially successful negative ad. Overall, we find little indication that the effectiveness of either attack or response (denial, counterattack, counterimaging, justification, and accusing one’s opponent of mudslinging) varies significantly according to candidate gender. Further, shared partisanship appears to matter more than shared gender in shaping how voters react to the campaign messages of male and female candidates.

Suggested Citation

Craig, Stephen and Rippere, Paulina S, He Said, She Said: The Impact of Candidate Gender in Negative Campaigns (2013). APSA 2013 Annual Meeting Paper, American Political Science Association 2013 Annual Meeting, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2301028

Stephen Craig (Contact Author)

Professor, University of Florida ( email )

PO Box 117325
Gainesville, FL 32611-7325
United States
352-273-2377 (Phone)

Paulina S Rippere

Jacksonville University ( email )

2800 University Blvd. N.
Jacksonville, FL 32211
United States

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