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Fri Oct 4, 2013, 03:44 PM

Americans are more liberal than either Republican or Democratic pols realize [View all]


here's a non-pdf version - http://www.democracyjournal.org/arguments/2013/09/politicians-think-american-voters-are-more-conservative-than-they-really-are.php


When we compare what legislators believe their constituents want to their constituents’ actual views, we discover that politicians hold remarkably inaccurate perceptions. Pick an American state legislator at random, and chances are that he or she will have massive misperceptions about district views on big-ticket issues, typically missing the mark by 15 percentage points.

What is more, the mistakes legislators make tend to fall in one direction, giving U.S. politics a rightward tilt compared to what most voters say they want. As the following figures show, legislators usually believe their constituents are more conservative than they actually are. Our attitude measurements are most accurate on the questions about same sex marriage and universal health insurance – and in both instances the legislators’ guesses about their constituents’ views were 15-20 percent more conservative, on average, than the true public support for same-sex marriage or universal health care present in their districts.

Our study also found that politicians don’t learn in the normal course of events. After November 2012, we posed the same questions again to some candidates. Even after conducting campaigns and seeing the results, politicians did not arrive at more accurate perceptions of constituent views—not even those who had spent more time talking to voters. Much remains to be learned about why U.S. legislators think constituents are more conservative than they truly are, but researchers have found that politically active citizens tend to be wealthier and more conservative than others. Politicians who want to represent all the people in their districts need to keep this in mind.

Our findings also suggest that progressive groups might be able to use a simple lobbying strategy—just let legislators know the truth about what their constituents think and want! Most of the time, legislators will discover that their constituents are more liberal than they suppose. Would that lead to policy change? It is an open question, but some research suggests that public opinion can influence what politicians do. Perhaps helping representatives perceive their constituents correctly could pave the way for public policies closer to what Americans really want.

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Reply Americans are more liberal than either Republican or Democratic pols realize [View all]
RainDog Oct 2013 OP
Myrina Oct 2013 #1
RainDog Oct 2013 #5
Myrina Oct 2013 #19
RainDog Oct 2013 #20
Doctor_J Oct 2013 #2
Ash_F Oct 2013 #7
Doctor_J Oct 2013 #8
RainDog Oct 2013 #9
Hydra Oct 2013 #11
RainDog Oct 2013 #12
Hydra Oct 2013 #13
Hydra Oct 2013 #10
tularetom Oct 2013 #3
Bill USA Oct 2013 #4
RainDog Oct 2013 #6
Bill USA Oct 2013 #16
RainDog Oct 2013 #18
bvar22 Oct 2013 #21
Laelth Oct 2013 #28
RainDog Oct 2013 #29
rug Oct 2013 #14
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Wilms Oct 2013 #22
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blkmusclmachine Oct 2013 #23
Scuba Oct 2013 #24
RainDog Oct 2013 #25
DJ13 Oct 2013 #26
Laelth Oct 2013 #27