Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 14 > Issue 4

Voter Response to Hispanic Sounding Names: Evidence from Down-Ballot Statewide Elections

Suzanne K. Barth, Wellesley College, USA, suzanne.barth@wellesley.edu , Nikolas Mittag, CERGE-EI, Czech Republic, nikolasmittag@posteo.de , Kyung H. Park, Wellesley College, USA, kyung.park@wellesley.edu
Suggested Citation
Suzanne K. Barth, Nikolas Mittag and Kyung H. Park (2019), "Voter Response to Hispanic Sounding Names: Evidence from Down-Ballot Statewide Elections", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 14: No. 4, pp 401-437. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00018092

Publication Date: 10 Oct 2019
© 2019 S. K. Barth, N. Mittag and K. H. Park
Voter biasheuristicsinformational cueselectionsminority representation


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In this article:
Research Design 
Data and Descriptive Statistics 
Empirical Model 
Main Results 
Potential Mechanisms 
Additional Discussion 


The study of how voters respond to ethnic heuristics is complicated by the possibility that candidates differ along other dimensions that affect voter choice. This paper focuses on down-ballot statewide elections in which voters are plausibly ill-informed about candidates but can still infer race and ethnicity via the informational content in their names. Using nearly two decades of election results from the state of Texas, we find evidence of voters switching party support when their party's candidate has a distinctively Hispanic name. This result is more pronounced in counties that are expected to have higher levels of racial animosity. These findings are important since holding lower statewide office is a valuable stepping stone for minority politicians who aspire to higher office.