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Indirect prejudice: The danger in considering others' preferences during a primary election

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In a primary election, the normative advice is for voters to consider a candidate's electability - that is, to incorporate other voters' preferences into their own choices. We identify an ethical problem with considering electability and investigate indirect prejudice, which is the impact of other voters' prejudice on a non-prejudiced person's vote. We use an analytical model to show that indirect prejudice impacts outcomes in a primary election, where considering others' preferences is normatively superior, but not in a general election, where personal preferences dominate. When strategic voters in a primary overpredict the prejudice of general election voters, they can reject a candidate who is facing prejudice but whom the majority of voters prefer. We also present the results of an experiment that reveals that prompting respondents to think about prejudice reduces support for a female candidate, but only in a primary election. We conclude by noting the ethical dilemma tied to indirect prejudice and letting others' prejudice impact our decisions.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 September 2016

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