A Natural Experiment on Discrimination in Elections
95 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2017 Last revised: 25 Mar 2019
Date Written: March 21, 2019
We exploit a natural experiment to identify 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. We estimate nonwhite delegates receive 10 percent fewer votes, costing voters’ preferred presidential candidates votes and reducing nonwhite representation. We find essentially no gender discrimination. Negligible incentives for statistical discrimination, the costs of discrimination to preferred candidates, and heterogeneity support tastes as the likely mechanism.
Keywords: Taste-Based, Racial Discrimination, Voter Behavior
JEL Classification: D72, J15
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