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Politics: Just Another Kind of Fandom?


In addition to sports, I have also done research in the area of political campaigns.

Consumers, fans and voters all share some broad similarities. For example, brand loyalty, fan loyalty and party loyalty are all built on a combination of preferences, habits, and identity. The relative value of these factors may vary across contexts but choices of and loyalty to brands, teams and candidates can be studied with the same methods and theories.

Below you will find links to two academic papers related to politics.The first paper examines how candidate appearance influence electoral outcomes. Other researchers have found that having a “competent” appearance tend to do better in electoral contests. They actually find that the more competent appearing candidate tends to win the majority of election contests.

Our approach is more fine grained. We consider a variety of appearance measures –competent, intelligent, likable, honest and several others. We also consider the possibility that candidate appearance operates differently across the two parties. In fact, we find significant differences in the ideal appearance of Republicans and Democrats. Read the paper – but the short hand summary is that Republicans do better when they look like the football coach while Democrats excel when they look like faculty.

The second paper delves into the subject of political advertising. Studying advertising effectiveness is challenging because advertising spending is usually a function of candidate popularity and other attributes. This usually translate to the more popular candidate having more money to spend. We use an innovative identification strategy to understand the true effects of candidate advertising.

More importantly, we also look into how the source of advertising (candidate versus PAC) influences advertising effectiveness. In general, we find that advertising by outside groups tends to be ineffective. This finding is important for a variety of controversies and debates ranging from regulating campaign spending by outside groups and event the likelihood of a few thousand dollars in Russian interference mattering.

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