Tuesday, November 03, 2009

I Must Be Just About the Most Handsome Guy Around!

When they are behind, "out" parties choose candidates with higher quality faces.

Mr. De Mille, I am ready for my close up!

Candidate Faces and Election Outcomes: Is the Face-Vote Correlation Caused by Candidate Selection?

Matthew Atkinson, Ryan Enos & Seth Hill
Quarterly Journal of Political Science, October 2009, Pages 229-249

Abstract: We estimate the effect of candidate appearance on vote choice in congressional elections using an original survey instrument. Based on estimates of the facial competence of 972 congressional candidates, we show that in more competitive races the out-party tends to run candidates with higher quality faces. We estimate the direct effect of face on vote choice
when controlling for the competitiveness of the contest and for individual partisanship. Combining survey data with our facial quality scores and a measure of contest comp- etitiveness, we find a face quality effect for Senate challengers of about 4 points for independent voters and 1-3 points for partisans. While we estimate face effects that could potentially matter in close elections, we find that the challenging candidate's face is never the
difference between a challenger and incumbent victory in all 99 Senate elections in our study.

(Nod to Kevin L, who has excellent face quality)

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