Our study investigates how political candidates’ occupational background and gender influence voters’ perceptions of candidates’ competence to handle a variety of policy issues and voters’ support for candidates. Using experimental data collected among American and New Zealand students (N = 794), our multivariate analyses indicate that students perceive candidates with political experience as most competent in handling security-related issues, candidates with a business background as most competent in handling economic issues, and candidates with a background in education as most competent in handling human services issues. This pattern is similar for male and female candidates and holds in both countries. The effect of candidates’ occupational background on the likelihood to vote for the candidate, however, differs between both countries. Whereas occupational background does not seem to matter for American students, New Zealand students are substantially less likely to vote for a candidate with a business background than for a candidate with political experience.
Coffe, H., & Theiss-Morse, E. (2017). The effect of political candidates’ occupational background on voters’ perceptions of and support for candidates. Political Science, 68(1), 55-77. https://doi.org/10.1177/0032318716640611