Brittany Macon (Politics, C '14) was given an award for the best undergraduate poster presented at the 2013 annual meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association. Macon's poster presentation was selected from among hundreds of students who attended the conference to present their work. Macon researched the topic of racial and gender identifiers and how they affect voter behavior. Formal presentation of the award will be made during the April, 2014 annual meeting of the MPSA in Chicago.
Following is the abstract of Macon's research presentation: "In this paper, I examine the tradeoffs between racial- and gender- based descriptive representation made by white male voters and black female voters when evaluating different candidates. I use data from my 2012 survey sent to undergraduate students at three colleges in several regions of the U.S. to demonstrate that racial descriptive representation plays a more significant role than gender cues in voter decision-making. I confirm the findings from my survey experiment by using a regression test to measure how respondents’ race, gender, and party identification affect their approval of two current political leaders with varied race and gender. I find that, when evaluating a black male candidate or a white female candidate, both black female voters and white male voters feel closer to, better represented by, and are more likely to vote for someone who shares their race, rather than their gender. This effect is strongest among black females. While some may argue that the era of Obama has made racial descriptive representation a dying necessity, my findings reveal the opposite. Descriptive representation powerfully affects voters, including white voters who are used to having it."