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“I Didn’t Lie, I Misspoke”: Voters’ Responses to Questionable Campaign Claims

  • Elizabeth N. Simas (a1) and Doug Murdoch (a1)


Lies and half-truths are commonplace in US politics. While there is a growing literature examining questionable statements, relatively little attention has been given to the consequences that befall the sources. We address this gap by looking at how a candidate’s sex shapes citizens’ reactions to a factually dubious statement. We argue and show that subjects from the opposing party display a greater desire and tendency to punish a female candidate. Subjects from the candidate’s same party, however, appear to be more forgiving when the candidate is portrayed as a woman versus a man. In total, our findings suggest that gender and partisan biases may operate in tandem to both help and harm female political candidates who “misspeak.”


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The authors thank the Associate Editor, the anonymous reviewers, and the participants in the University of Houston Political Misperceptions Conference held February 8–10, 2018. All mistakes are our own. There are no conflicts of interest to report. The data, code, and any additional materials required to replicate all analyses in this article are available at the Journal of Experimental Political Science Dataverse within the Harvard Dataverse Network, at:



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Simas and Murdoch Dataset

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Simas and Murdoch supplementary material 1

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“I Didn’t Lie, I Misspoke”: Voters’ Responses to Questionable Campaign Claims

  • Elizabeth N. Simas (a1) and Doug Murdoch (a1)


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