Do voters dislike working-class candidates? Voter biases and the descriptive underrepresentation of the working class


Journal Article

© American Political Science Association 2016. In most democracies, lawmakers tend to be vastly better off than the citizens who elect them. Is that because voters prefer more affluent politicians over leaders from working-class backgrounds? In this article, we report the results of candidate choice experiments embedded in surveys in Britain, the United States, and Argentina. Using conjoint designs, we asked voters in these different contexts to choose between two hypothetical candidates, randomly varying several of the candidates' personal characteristics, including whether they had worked in blue-collar or white-collar jobs. Contrary to the idea that voters prefer affluent politicians, the voters in our experiments viewed hypothetical candidates from the working class as equally qualified, more relatable, and just as likely to get their votes. Voters do not seem to be behind the shortage of working-class politicians. To the contrary, British, American, and Argentine voters seem perfectly willing to cast their ballots for working-class candidates.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Carnes, N; Lupu, N

Published Date

  • November 1, 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 110 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 832 - 844

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1537-5943

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0003-0554

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1017/S0003055416000551

Citation Source

  • Scopus