Lawn Signs Name Recognition

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Citation

Cindy Kam and Elizabeth Zechmeister (2013). Name Recognition and Candidate Support. American Journal of Political Science, 57, 971–986

Highlights

“Using three laboratory experiments (using lawn signs in the field) we provide conclusive evidence that name recognition can affect candidate support, and we offer strong evidence that a key mechanism underlying this relationship is inferences about candidate viability.”

Abstract

The mass media devote a great deal of attention to high-profile elections, but in American political life such elections are the exception, not the rule. The majority of electoral contests feature candidates who are relative unknowns. In such situations, does name recognition breed contempt, indifference, or affection? Existing work presents modest theory and mixed evidence. Using three laboratory experiments, we provide conclusive evidence that name recognition can affect candidate support, and we offer strong evidence that a key mechanism underlying this relationship is inferences about candidate viability. We further show that the name-recognition effect dissipates in the face of a more germane cue, incumbency. We conclude with a field study that demonstrates the robustness of the name-recognition effect to a real-world political context, that of yard signs and a county election.

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