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Murder and Presidential Elections

Open Panel

Abstract

There have been numerous studies of the media and politics. Many examine either the media’s behavioral or structure effects; most do not address both, particularly in the context of presidential elections. I overcome the conventional problems that may have inhibited such studies by focusing on an issue that is routinely and prominently covered in the local news and is politically important: crime, in general, and murder, in particular. I examine the reelection of President Bush in 2004 and find that county-level vote share for President Bush is significantly correlated with the number of murders in each local media market, but not for each individual county. As such, I argue that these results demonstrate both a behavioral as well as a structure effect of local news on political behavior.