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What influences citizen forecasts? The effects of information, elite cues, and social cues

Morisi, Davide and Leeper, Thomas (2022) What influences citizen forecasts? The effects of information, elite cues, and social cues. Political Behavior. ISSN 0190-9320

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Identification Number: 10.1007/s11109-022-09811-4


The emergent literature on citizen forecasting suggests that the public, in the aggregate, can often accurately predict the outcomes of elections. However, it is not clear how citizens form judgments about election results or what factors influence individual predictions. Drawing on an original survey experiment conducted during the campaign for the United Kingdom’s Brexit referendum, we provide novel evidence of what influences citizen forecasts in a so-far unexplored context of direct democracy. Specifically, we investigate the effect of voting preferences and political sophistication, in addition to three “exogenous factors” that we manipulate experimentally—i.e., social cues, elite cues and campaign arguments. Our findings indicate that citizens are reasonably accurate in their predictions, with the average forecast being close to the actual result of the referendum. However, important individual heterogeneity exists, with politically sophisticated voters being more accurate in their predictions and less prone to wishful thinking than non-sophisticated voters. Experimental findings show that partisan voters adjust their predictions in response to cues provided by their favorite party’s elites and partly in response to campaign arguments, and the effects are larger for low-sophisticated voters. We discuss the mechanisms accounting for the experimental effects, in addition to the implications of our findings for public opinion research and the literature on citizen forecasting.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 The Authors, under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.
Divisions: Government
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Date Deposited: 18 Aug 2022 10:00
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2022 00:03

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