The Fox News Effect: Media Bias and Voting

52 Pages Posted: 21 May 2006 Last revised: 14 Jul 2009

See all articles by Stefano DellaVigna

Stefano DellaVigna

University of California, Berkeley; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Ethan Kaplan

Stockholm University - Institute for International Economic Studies (IIES)

Date Written: April 2006

Abstract

Does media bias affect voting? We address this question by looking at the entry of Fox News in cable markets and its impact on voting. Between October 1996 and November 2000, the conservative Fox News Channel was introduced in the cable programming of 20 percent of US towns. Fox News availability in 2000 appears to be largely idiosyncratic. Using a data set of voting data for 9,256 towns, we investigate if Republicans gained vote share in towns where Fox News entered the cable market by the year 2000. We find a significant effect of the introduction of Fox News on the vote share in Presidential elections between 1996 and 2000. Republicans gain 0.4 to 0.7 percentage points in the towns which broadcast Fox News. The results are robust to town-level controls, district and county fixed effects, and alternative specifications. We also find a significant effect of Fox News on Senate vote share and on voter turnout. Our estimates imply that Fox News convinced 3 to 8 percent of its viewers to vote Republican. We interpret the results in light of a simple model of voter learning about media bias and about politician quality. The Fox News effect could be a temporary learning effect for rational voters, or a permanent effect for voters subject to non-rational persuasion.

Suggested Citation

DellaVigna, Stefano and Kaplan, Ethan Daniel, The Fox News Effect: Media Bias and Voting (April 2006). NBER Working Paper No. w12169. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=897023

Stefano DellaVigna (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

Economics Department
549 Evans Hall #3880
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States
510-643-0715 (Phone)
510-642-6615 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://emlab.berkeley.edu/users/sdellavi/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Ethan Daniel Kaplan

Stockholm University - Institute for International Economic Studies (IIES) ( email )

Stockholm, SE-10691
Sweden

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