Women often face challenges when running for political office, but precisely when and how candidate sex affects voter decision making is unclear. Using a unique multiday, high-information experiment, we examine how the presence of women candidates in an election influences subjects’ information search, candidate evaluations, and vote decisions. We focus on how the partisan alignment of women candidates (whether they run in the subject’s preferred in-party vs. out-party) matters and at which point in the campaign gender is most influential. We find that subjects who see in-party women candidates are more open to considering the out-party candidate, seeking out more information about the candidates in the race. Out-party women candidates strengthen subjects’ initial partisan preferences, however, leading to less search and higher in-party voting rates. We also find that candidate gender is most influential early in the campaign, and its effects diminish as the campaign progresses.
Andersen, D. J., & DiTonto, T. (2020). The Importance of Candidate Sex and Partisan Preference Over Time: A Multi-day Study of Voter Decision-Making. Journal of Politics, 82(4), 1337-1353. https://doi.org/10.1086/708340