A Natural Experiment on Taste-Based Racial and Ethnic Discrimination in Elections

A Natural Experiment on Taste-Based Racial and Ethnic Discrimination in Elections

By David Broockman, Evan J. Soltas
October 9,2018Working Paper No. 3499

We exploit a natural experiment to identify discrimination in elections. In Illinois Republican presidential primaries, voters vote for delegates bound to presidential candidates, but delegates’ names convey information about their race and gender. We identify discrimination from variation in vote totals among delegates bound to the same presidential candidate and who face the same voters. We estimate nonwhite delegates receive 10 percent fewer votes, costing voters’ preferred presidential candidates votes and reducing nonwhite representation. We find essentially no gender discrimination. Negligible incentives for statistical discrimination, the costs of discrimination to preferred candidates, and heterogeneity indicate tastes as the likely mechanism.

Keywords
Taste-Based, Racial Discrimination, Voter Behavior