Graham, Matthew H., Gregory A. Huber, Neil Malhotra, and Cecilia Hyunjung Mo (2021). Irrelevant Events and Voting Behavior: Replications Using Principles from Open Science. The Journal of Politics.First available online: 11 June, 2020. DOI: 10.1086/714761.
How well do voters hold politicians accountable? Although a longstanding research tradition claims that elections are effective tools for the sanctioning and selection of leaders, a more-recent literature argues that voters often reward and punish incumbents for “irrelevant events.” The empirical literature on this topic is characterized by conflicting findings. Drawing upon ideas from the open science movement, and showing how they can advance the transparency of observational research, we replicated three prominent studies on “irrelevant” events and voting behavior: (1) Achen and Bartels’s (2016) study of droughts and floods; (2) Healy, Malhotra, and Mo’s (2010) study of college football; and (3) Healy and Malhotra’s (2010) study of tornadoes. Each study replicates well in some areas and poorly in others. Had we sought to debunk any of the three with ex post specification search, we could have done so. However, our approach required us to see the full, complicated picture.
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