Professor Jessica Trounstine's paper "Voting Can Be Hard, Information Helps" has been recognized as the Best Paper in American Politics presented at the Midwest Political Science Association's 2017 meeting. Congratulations to Prof. Trounstine and her co-authors on this fantastic achievement.
The paper studies a central question in American political behavior: how information influences voter behaviors and the reliance on shortcuts. The study uses a series of conjoint experiments to study the extent to which voters use race, ethnicity, and gender as shortcuts to help them make decisions when they have low, moderate, or high levels of other information. The experiments show that while racial and ethnic minorities more readily lose in low information settings, women often win. But information moderates the effects: disadvantages for candidates from all racial groups are eliminated by providing voters with enough information, though the informational threshold is lower for Asian and Latino candidates relative to Black candidates. Likewise, the preference for women is weakened by high information. In general, the findings suggest that increasing information availability in elections leads voters to make decisions in ways that utilize directly relevant information.