EconPapers    
Economics at your fingertips  
 

Personal Emotions and Political Decision Making: Implications for Voter Competence

Andrew Healy (), Neil Malhotra and Cecilia H. Mo
Additional contact information
Neil Malhotra: Stanford University
Cecilia H. Mo: Stanford University

Research Papers from Stanford University, Graduate School of Business

Abstract: According to what criteria do citizens make political decisions, and what do these criteria say about democratic competence? An impressive body of evidence suggests that voters competently evaluate diagnostic information such as macroeconomic trends and their personal financial circumstances to reward good performance while ridding themselves of leaders who are corrupt, incompetent, or ineffective. However, what if some voters' personal emotional reactions to events completely unrelated to public affairs influence their voting decisions? The conflation of personal emotions with political cognition challenges traditional conceptions of citizen competence and democratic accountability. We explore whether emotional reactions unrelated to incumbent performance affect voting behavior by assessing the electoral impact of local college football games, events that government has nothing to do with and for which no government response would be expected. On average, a win before Election Day causes the incumbent to receive about one percentage point more of the vote, with the effect being larger for teams with stronger fan support. We corroborate these aggregate-level results with a survey conducted during the 2009 NCAA Men's College Basketball Tournament, where we find that sports-induced emotional change affects approval of President Obama and assessments of the health of the country. Voters' decisions and attitudes are thus shown to depend considerably on events that affect their personal level of happiness even when those events are entirely disconnected from government activity. Our results provide new evidence on the significant limitations of the electorate's capacity to hold elected officials accountable for their actions.

Date: 2009-07
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm, nep-pol and nep-spo
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (2) Track citations by RSS feed

Downloads: (external link)
http://gsbapps.stanford.edu/researchpapers/library/RP2034.pdf
Our link check indicates that this URL is bad, the error code is: 500 Can't connect to gsbapps.stanford.edu:443 (Bad file descriptor) (http://gsbapps.stanford.edu/researchpapers/library/RP2034.pdf [302 Found]--> https://gsbapps.stanford.edu/researchpapers/library/RP2034.pdf)

Related works:
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.

Export reference: BibTeX RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan) HTML/Text

Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:ecl:stabus:2034

Access Statistics for this paper

More papers in Research Papers from Stanford University, Graduate School of Business Contact information at EDIRC.
Bibliographic data for series maintained by ().

 
Page updated 2024-02-17
Handle: RePEc:ecl:stabus:2034