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The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy

Editor-in-Chief: Jürges, Hendrik / Ludwig, Sandra

Ed. by Auriol , Emmanuelle / Brunner, Johann / Fleck, Robert / Mendola, Mariapia / Requate, Till / Schirle, Tammy / de Vries, Frans / Zulehner, Christine

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Volume 13, Issue 2 (Oct 2013)

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Volume 6 (2006)

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Volume 1 (2001)

The Tuesday Advantage of Politicians Endorsed by American Newspapers

Fernanda Leite Lopez de Leon
Published Online: 2013-10-09 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/bejeap-2012-0043

Abstract

This article documents the electoral advantage of candidates who have a newspaper endorsement published on Election Day compared to other endorsed candidates. I provide evidence that this advantage is not driven by a selection effect, suggesting that it is instead explained by readers deciding how to vote based on endorsements read on Election Day. Moreover, candidates who have a different political orientation from their endorsing newspapers benefit more from this endorsement than other candidates. These results are based on a newly-compiled dataset matching county-level data of 826 endorsed candidates’ election results with newspaper and county characteristics.

Keywords: newspaper endorsements; Election Day; media effects

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About the article

Published Online: 2013-10-09


I refer to endorsements published on Election Day as Tuesday Endorsements. Tuesday Effect refers to the causal effect of a Tuesday Endorsement on election outcomes and provides a suggested interpretation of the Tuesday Advantage. These terms are used, because American elections take place on Tuesdays.

According to a survey conducted by the Cable Television Advertisement Bureau in 2011, 75% of voters are undecided about their votes in local races one week before an election.

Limited attention is discussed and formalized in DellaVigna (2009). In his framework, he assumes that the value of a good V is determined by an opaque (o) and a visible (v) component, as in . However, due to inattention, a consumer perceives the value to be , where θ is the degree of inattention. In the context of this article, the opaque information refers to endorsements published before Election Day. This assumption is in line with the intuition that Tuesday recommendations are more salient, since they are provided on the day they are used.

There is a vast body of literature that shows a strong and positive association between votes and received endorsements, including Erickson (1976), Coombs (1981), Bullock (1984), Lieske (1989), and Krebs (1998). Ladd and Lenz (2009) use quasi-experimental evidence to establish a causal relationship. They explore an exogenous shift in newspaper endorsements to the Labour Party in the 1997 British election and find a large endorsement effect.

If a candidate received an endorsement from multiple newspapers, his/her electoral outcome at the county level was matched to the characteristics of the endorsing newspaper with the highest circulation in the county. Upon following this rule, each candidate was coded to only one last endorsement publication day per county.

http://www.nytimes.com/ref/washington/2006ELECTIONGUIDE.html.

These states were selected because the group of newspapers audited by ABC is more representative of the total number of newspapers than in other states. They represent around 30% of total newspapers in these eight states. For the remaining states, ABC’s sample represents around 20% of total newspapers. Representativeness is crucial to the analysis. Locations where ABC newspapers are not representative are more prone to have county electoral outcomes erroneously matched with a newspaper, and, therefore, with its last endorsement publication date.

The remaining newspapers (24%) switched their endorsement timing across the 2002 and 2006 elections. These are more likely to endorse tactically and choose to publish their list of endorsements on Election Day when they are more confident about their endorsed candidates’ chances of winning the election. Based on results not shown in this article, a Tuesday Advantage is not revealed for candidates endorsed by this group of papers.

In addition to the proximity to the election, these days – Monday and Sunday – were chosen because most of the newspapers (87%) in the sample last published their endorsements within three days of the election.

The approach of exploring within-candidate variation in endorsements, with the inclusion of candidate-fixed effects, is possible for gubernatorial races, because these candidates receive four newspaper endorsements on average.

According to a National survey conducted by the Cable Television Advertisement Bureau in 2011, 60% of individuals decide their votes a week before the national election. This proportion is 75% for local elections.

I follow the definition in Snyder and Stromberg (2010, 361).

where is newspaper j’s share of newspaper sales in county c, and is the share of newspaper readers who live in jurisdiction z. Like Snyder and Stromberg (2010), I use Audit Bureau of Circulation data on all available newspapers and information on newspapers’ circulation in each county to derive and .

Snyder and Stromberg (2010) document that an increase in congruency from zero to one is associated with around 170 stories about the congressperson.

As discussed in Snyder and Stromberg (2010), the congruency measure explores the “economic geography” factors that determine newspapers’ political coverage (such as their reader share in the area). The fact that congruency matters in determining the Tuesday Effect shows that economic incentives also explain media influence on elections.


Citation Information: The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, ISSN (Online) 1935-1682, ISSN (Print) 2194-6108, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/bejeap-2012-0043.

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©2013 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin / Boston. Copyright Clearance Center

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