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Does inattention to political debate explain the polarization gap between the U.S. congress and public?

Lauderdale, Benjamin E. (2013) Does inattention to political debate explain the polarization gap between the U.S. congress and public? Public Opinion Quarterly, 77 (1 (S)). pp. 2-23. ISSN 0033-362X

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Identification Number: 10.1093/poq/nfs065

Abstract

Recent studies of the U.S. Congress have demonstrated a substantial difference in partisan polarization between legislators' votes and citizens' survey responses about those votes. But perhaps public polarization would increase if citizens were more atten- tive to political debates in Congress? Using matching techniques on natural variation in citizens' political information levels, I show that citizens who are informed about the partisan alignment of issues have a similar preference distribution to Congress, even after the former are re-weighted to resemble the entire public along salient political, social, and demographic dimensions. In contrast, using a survey experiment, I show that cue and argument treatments only partially reduce the discrepancy between the views expressed by the public and the voting behavior of Congress on the same issues. Both experimental and observational studies have significant limitations for measuring counterfactuals involving public opinion, and so our understanding of the polarization gap remains unfortunately limited.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: http://poq.oxfordjournals.org/
Additional Information: © 2013 The Author
Divisions: Government
Methodology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
J Political Science > JK Political institutions (United States)
Sets: Departments > Government
Departments > Methodology
Collections > United States Collection
Date Deposited: 25 Apr 2013 12:14
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2020 01:43
Projects: 0818839
Funders: National Science Foundation
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/46528

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