“Gender Stereotypes and Vote Choice"

by Kira Sanbonmatsu
American Journal of Political Science, 2002 (January)

There are two distinct bodies of research on candidate gender. The first argues that voters are not biased against female candidates. These studies are usually based on aggregate analyses of the success rates of male and female candidates. The second body of research argues that voters employ gender stereotypes when they evaluate candidates. These studies are usually based on experiments which manipulate candidate gender. This study seeks to unite these literatures by incorporating gender stereotypes and hypothetical vote questions involving two candidates in one model. The author argues that many voters have a baseline gender preference to vote for male over female candidates, or female over male candidates. Using original survey data, the author finds that this general predisposition or preference can be explained by gender stereotypes about candidate traits, beliefs, and issue competencies, and by voter gender. The author also argues that this baseline preference affects voting behavior.