Share the Name, Share the Vote: A Natural Experiment of Name Recognition

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Authors Kentaro Fukumoto, Hirofumi Miwa
Journal/Conference Name THE JOURNAL OF POLITICS
Paper Category
Paper Abstract Do candidates garner more votes simply because their names are better recognized? To answer this question, we use elections to the Japanese House of Councillors as a natural experiment. Members are elected in national and local-level districts. To isolate the effect of name recognition on vote choice, we compare the vote shares of national district candidates in high-name-recognition prefectures—which we define as prefectures in which a national candidate shares the same surname as a local district candidate—and the other low-name-recognition prefectures. Our research design addresses internal and external validity problems from which previous studies suffer. We find that national candidates obtain 69% larger vote shares in high- as opposed to low-name-recognition prefectures. This result holds when controlling for idiosyncratic characteristics of national candidates and prefecture-specific surname popularity.
Date of publication 2018
Code Programming Language R

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