Research & Politics
Do US voters prefer inexperienced candidates? Candidates who have never held elected office before have had greater success in recent presidential and congressional elections. However, it could be that voters prefer the type of anti-establishment rhetoric that such candidates use more than the lack of experience itself. We conduct a 2x2 factorial experiment that manipulates a fictitious congressional candidate’s experience and rhetoric toward the political system. Results from a nationally representative Qualtrics sample and two follow-up studies from Mechanical Turk show that respondents evaluate the candidate more positively when he uses anti-establishment rhetoric instead of pro-establishment rhetoric. Though the findings are mixed, we find weak and inconsistent evidence that respondent prefer inexperienced candidates to experienced ones. The results suggest that outsider candidates receive an electoral boost by using anti-establishment messaging, but that candidates’ political résumés matter less to potential voters.
Hansen, Eric and Treul, Sarah. Inexperienced or Anti-Establishment? Voter Preferences for Outsider Congressional Candidates. Research & Politics, 8, 3: 1-7, 2021. Retrieved from Loyola eCommons, Political Science: Faculty Publications and Other Works, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/20531680211034958
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