Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Seminar Papers,
Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies

No 748: The Fox News Effect: Media Bias and Voting

Stefano DellaVigna () and Ethan Kaplan ()
Additional contact information
Stefano DellaVigna: UC Berkeley and NBER, Postal: University of California, Department of Economics, 549 Evans Hall #3880, Berkeley, CA 94590,
Ethan Kaplan: Institute for International Economic Studies, Stockholm University, Postal: Stockholm University, S-106 69 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: Does media bias affect voting? We analyze the entry of Fox News in cable markets and its impact on voting. Between October 1996 and November 2000, the conservative Fox News Channel was introduced in the cable programming of 20 percent of US towns. Fox News availability in 2000 appears to be largely idiosyncratic, conditional on a set of controls. Using a data set of voting data for 9,256 towns, we investigate if republicans gained vote share in towns where Fox News entered the cable market by the year 2000. We find a significant effect of the introduction of Fox News on the vote share in Presidential elections between 1996 and 2000. Republicans gained 0.4 to 0.7 percentage points in the towns which broadcast Fox News. Fox News also a􀀎ected the Republican vote share in the Senate and voter turnout. Our estimates imply that Fox News convinced 3 to 28 percent of its viewers to vote Republican, depending on the audience measure. The Fox News effect could be a temporary learning effect for rational voters, or a permanent effect for non-rational voters subject to persuasion.

Keywords: -

JEL-codes: C53; H10

40 pages, August 18, 2006

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