University of Mississippi

Does Sex Encourage Commitment? The Impact of Candidate Choices on the Time-to-Decision

Fulton, Sarah A. and Heather L. OndercinDoes Sex Encourage Commitment? The Impact of Candidate Choices on the Time-to-Decision.” Political Behavior, The Journal.

PBCover(small)

ABSTRACT
The sex of a congressional candidate can influence voting choices, but does candidate sex also influence the timing of those choices? This paper examines that question in light of other information that voters weigh in making their decisions. Using a national survey from the 2006 election, and a unique dataset of political informants, we find that the sex of the candidate conveys ideological information that permits voters to make swifter judgments. Additionally, it reduces the probability of a delayed decision by supplying information helpful to the choice between candidates—even in the absence of ideology. In fact, the impact of candidate sex rivals other variables that are traditionally used to explain the time-to-decision. Consistent with the literature on sex stereotypes, we find a stronger influence for Democratic than Republican female candidates.