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Evidence of Own‐Race Bias in Heisman Trophy Voting*

Social Science Quarterly

Published online on


--- - |2+ Objective In this article, I test for evidence of own‐race bias in voting for the Heisman Trophy. Methods To study own‐race bias in Heisman Trophy voting, I use individual vote data from Heisman voters from 2002 to 2012 and an ordered probit model with controls for player and team performance that flexibly allows votes be affected by a player's race and racial match between player and voter. Results Estimates show nonblack voters are more likely to vote for nonblack players in absolute terms and compared with black voters assuming homogeneous voter preferences. Allowing preferences to vary by race, results show nonblack voters continue to be more likely to vote for nonblack players in absolute terms and are strongly suggestive of a larger relative bias in favor of nonblack players by nonblack voters as compared with black voters. Conclusion There is a racial component to Heisman Trophy voting and bias is large enough to affect official aggregate results. Racial bias may have affected the award's winner in multiple Heisman races between 2002 and 2012. - 'Social Science Quarterly, EarlyView. '