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The Role of Intersectional Stereotypes on Evaluations of Gay and Lesbian Political Candidates

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 March 2010

Alesha E. Doan
University of Kansas
Donald P. Haider-Markel
University of Kansas


Social scientists are increasingly taking a more complex theoretical approach to the role of stereotyping in the electorate's evaluation of political candidates. Within this literature, most studies investigate the impact of one stereotype on the public's evaluation of candidates from an underrepresented group. We build on and extend this literature by exploring what we term “intersectional stereotyping”: The role of stereotypes in shaping the electorate's evaluation of political candidates who share dual membership in stigmatized groups—women and sexual minorities. We empirically examine the impact of intersectional stereotyping in a unique 2003 survey of national adults. Our results indicate that gender, both of the respondent and the candidate, plays a key role in shaping attitudes toward gay and lesbian political candidates. These findings suggest that intersectional stereotyping plays a nuanced role in evaluations of candidates; in certain contexts gender stereotypes are more significant, and at other times stereotypes about sexual minorities appear to be driving evaluations of candidates.

Research Article
Copyright © The Women and Politics Research Section of the American Political Science Association 2010

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