Political Behavior

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 665–686 | Cite as

Does Sex Encourage Commitment? The Impact of Candidate Choices on the Time-to-Decision

Original Paper


The sex of a congressional candidate can influence voting choices, but does candidate sex also influence the timing of those choices? This paper examines that question in light of other information that voters weigh in making their decisions. Using a national survey from the 2006 election, and a unique dataset of political informants, we find that the sex of the candidate conveys ideological information that permits voters to make swifter judgments. Additionally, it reduces the probability of a delayed decision by supplying information helpful to the choice between candidates—even in the absence of ideology. In fact, the impact of candidate sex rivals other variables that are traditionally used to explain the time-to-decision. Consistent with the literature on sex stereotypes, we find a stronger influence for Democratic than Republican female candidates.


Late-deciders Candidate sex Sex stereotypes Voting behavior Heuristics Time-to-decision Women in politics 



We are grateful to Walter J. Stone for his guidance on this paper and for generously providing the data used in this analysis and Susan Welch for her insightful comments that helped shape the paper.

Supplementary material

11109_2012_9214_MOESM1_ESM.doc (60 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 60 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Political Science DepartmentTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  2. 2.Political Science DepartmentUniversity of MississippiUniversityUSA

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