Glass houses and friends-and-neighbors voting: An exploratory analysis of the impact of political scandal on localism

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Friends-and-neighbors voting, Localism in elections, Political scandal, Reputation capital


© 2018 by the author. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). The 2017 U.S. Senate Special Election in Alabama, which was decided on 12 December 2017, was one of the most contentious and scandal-laden political campaigns in recent memory. The Republican candidate, Roy Moore, gained notoriety during the 2017 campaign when a number of women alleged to national media that as teenagers they were subject to sexual advances by Moore, who was then in his early 30s and serving as a local assistant district attorney. The process and results of this particular election provide the heretofore unexamined impact of political scandal on localism or friends-and-neighbors voting in political contests. Based on data from the 2017 special election in Alabama, econometric results presented here suggest that a candidate who is embroiled in political scandal suffers an erosion in the usual friends-and-neighbors effect on his or her local vote share. In this particular case, the scandal hanging over Moore eroded all of the friends-and-neighbors effect that would have been expected (e.g., about five percentage points) in his home county, as well as about 40% of the advantage Moore had at home over his opponent in terms of constituent political ideology.

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