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 Evan J. Soltas, David Broockman
April 29,2017Working Paper No. 3499

We exploit a natural experiment to plausibly identify taste-based racial and ethnic discrimination in elections. In Illinois Republican presidential primaries, voters vote for delegate candidates bound to particular presidential candidates. Delegate candidates’ names signal their race, but voters’ incentives for statistical discrimination against nonwhite delegates are negligible. Examining delegate vote totals from 2000–2016, we estimate about 10 percent of voters avoid voting for nonwhite delegates. Due to the primary’s structure, voters’ discrimination undermines their preferred presidential candidates’ nomination prospects and we estimate has altered political outcomes. Our estimates are robust to several possible confounds and vary as taste-based theories predict.

Keywords
Taste-Based, Racial Discrimination, Voter Behavior