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The Color of Electoral Success: Estimating the Effect of Skin Tone on Winning Elections in Mexico


Social Science Quarterly

Published online on


["\n\nObjective\nEvidence suggests that voters’ prejudices may lead them to take information shortcuts in choosing political leaders. This study analyzes whether the skin tone of 12,798 candidates influenced the outcome of their electoral campaigns.\n\n\nMethods\nTo determine the probability of winning an election, we estimate a linear regression where skin tone is used as an explanatory variable, with controls such as sex and political party. Based on the number of votes obtained by each candidate, we estimate an ordered logit model.\n\n\nResults\nCandidates with dark brown skin tones face a probability of winning that is 20–38 percent less than those with intermediate skin color. A one standard deviation increase in skin tone is associated with an 8 percent decrease in the probability of finishing in first place.\n\n\nConclusion\nSkin color influences electoral outcomes. Public policies should therefore ensure equal access and true representativeness.\n\n", "Social Science Quarterly, EarlyView. "]