Δευτέρα, 13 Μαΐου 2019

Political Behavior

Evaluating the News: (Mis)Perceptions of Objectivity and Credibility

Abstract

The introduction and popularity of politically biased news sources represents a significant historical shift in the media environment, with important unexplored consequences. Evidence points to partisan segmentation in the contemporary news market, but while assumptions abound, the mechanism driving consumers to sort along party lines is unclear. I develop a framework for news choice based on perceptions of objectivity and credibility and report a test of its central mechanism using a nationally representative survey experiment. I find support for a congenial media effect, where news content from an unfamiliar source is seen as more credible and less biased when it is consistent with existing beliefs, while balanced news content may be dismissed as less credible and biased. Previous studies have examined how perceptions of bias in identical news content can change when it is attributed to different sources. In today's media world however, access to more news sources generally and the ease with which content from those sources can be shared makes it increasingly likely people will be exposed to news content from either unknown or potentially fake news sources. This study contributes to the literature by identifying the unique effect of message content on perceptions of news bias and source credibility, while holding source constant. Paradoxically, my findings indicate that political selective exposure may arise out of individuals' genuine desire for unbiased news.



Is Sexism for White People? Gender Stereotypes, Race, and the 2016 Presidential Election

Abstract

On November 8, 2016 Donald Trump, a man with no office-holding experience, won the Electoral College, defeating the first woman to receive the presidential nomination from a major party. This paper offers the first observational test of how sexism affects presidential vote choice in the general election, adding to the rich literature on gender and candidate success for lower-level offices. We argue that the 2016 election implicated gender through Hillary Clinton's candidacy and Donald Trump's sexist rhetoric, and activated gender attitudes such that sexism is associated with vote choice. Using an Election Day exit poll survey of over 1300 voters conducted at 12 precincts in a mid-size city and a national survey of over 10,000 White and Black Americans, we find that a politically defined measure of sexism—the belief that men are better suited emotionally for politics than women—predicts support for Trump both in terms of vote choice and favorability. We find the effect is strongest and most consistent among White voters. However, a domestically defined measure of sexism—whether men should be in control of their wives—offers little explanatory power over the vote. In total, our results demonstrate the importance of gender in the 2016 election, beyond mere demographic differences in vote choice: beliefs about gender and fitness for office shape both White men and women's preferences.



Local Economic Shocks and National Election Outcomes: Evidence from Hungarian Administrative Data

Abstract

What are the consequences of unequal economic conditions on national election results? In this study, we use extraordinarily granular economic data measured without sampling error to assess how variation in local economic conditions across 3152 settlements affects incumbent support across the two most recent Hungarian elections. In addition, we use 95 monthly surveys capturing vote intention for nearly 100,000 respondents to assess possible individual level mechanisms. We find that the local economic milieu has a substantial effect on incumbent support, and that this effect was especially pronounced in the 2010 election that coincided with the peak of the Great Recession. Our micro-level analyses support these findings and suggest that the effect of local unemployment is unlikely to be explained by an aggregation of dissatisfaction among the unemployed.



The Personality of the Politically Ambitious

Abstract

Until recently, political ambition has largely been considered to be a product of the institutional and political environment. We argue that individual personality plays a significant role in nascent political ambition and progressive ambition. Using a nationally representative survey in the United States and a survey of public officials, we find a strong relationship between personality traits and nascent ambition. We find that individuals with higher levels of extraversion and openness are more likely to consider running for office, while agreeable and conscientious individuals are significantly less interested. We also find that personality traits do not relate to progressive ambition in the same way as they do to nascent ambition. In fact, they are weaker predictors of progressive ambition than they are of nascent ambition. We argue that democratic elections and public service attract certain types of individuals to seek office, which has implications for elite behavior and representation.



Traditional Versus Internet Media in a Restricted Information Environment: How Trust in the Medium Matters

Abstract

We use original survey data from Malaysia to explore differences in how traditional and digital media shape the attitudes and behavior of citizens. In closed, and even semi-authoritarian, states such as Malaysia, the Internet, including social media, is often the only place for opposition-centered media to thrive. As a result, consumption of Internet media is related to dissident attitudes. We argue that this relationship, though, is mitigated by trust in the medium. Our results suggest: (1) trust in traditional and Internet media determines the frequency with which citizens use each corresponding medium to gather political information, (2) higher trust in traditional media is positively associated with attitudes about democratic conditions in Malaysia; the opposite is true for trust in Internet media, (3) trust in the traditional media is negatively related, and trust in Internet media is positively related to the inclination to protest, (4) the positive relationship between digital media consumption and this attitude is stronger for those who trust Internet media, and diminished among those who trust traditional media.



Civic Duty and Voter Turnout

Abstract

We argue that two different sets of considerations shape the decision to vote or abstain in an election–ethical and non-ethical. First the citizen may vote out of a sense of duty. Failing that, she may vote because she has strong preferences about the outcome of the election. Abstention occurs when neither duty nor a sufficiently strong preference is present. The implication is that while duty and preference each have strong positive effects on turnout, they also have a negative interaction effect, since the impact of preference is much weaker among those with a sense of duty. We present a wide array of empirical evidence that systematically supports our claim that the turnout decision is importantly shaped by this causal heterogeneity. Thus a turnout model misses something fundamental if it does not take into account the effect of civic duty.



Issue Accountability in U.S. House Elections

Abstract

This paper analyzes the positions Members of Congress take on important aspects of public policy, voters' preferences on those issues, and individual-level voting behavior in congressional elections. Minimal evidence of issue accountability is found, and its form is different from that reported in previous research. The central implication is that representatives appear to have a good deal of discretion to take positions—at least with respect to voters—without paying an electoral penalty. The "electoral blind spot" (Bawn et al. Perspect Polit 10(3):571–597, 2012) in congressional elections may be substantial.



The Political Consequences of Policing: Evidence from New York City

Abstract

This paper explores the effect that municipal policing can exert on politics, and specifically investigates the effect that Stop, Question, and Frisk (SQF) policing has had on voter turnout and candidate choice in New York City. While extant studies of the American criminal justice system have found that mass incarceration and felon disenfranchisement negatively impact political participation and engagement, few have explicitly explored policing's relationship with politics and fewer still consider its mobilizing potential. Mobilizing data from over 2.7 million geo-coded police stops and data from a series of national and municipal elections this paper uncovers a pattern of voter demobilization, voter mobilization, and candidate choice that cannot be anticipated from extant studies in the literature. Specifically, it finds that while concentrated policing was associated with reductions in voter turnout in the 2006 and 2010 midterm elections, it was associated with higher rates of turnout in the 2008 presidential election and 2013 Democratic primary and general mayor. Further analysis demonstrates that stopping intensity was strongly associated with candidate choice in the 2013 Democratic mayoral primary, such that higher rates of policing were positively associated with support for the candidate (John Liu) who advocated for eliminating SQF and less support for the candidate (William Thompson) who supported SQF. Together, these findings highlight the impact that policing can exert on political behavior, characterize the impact that harmful policing policies can play in instigating policing participation and engagement, and foreground the importance of considering local criminal justice policy and political action.



What I Like About You: Legislator Personality and Legislator Approval

Abstract

Recent work in the study of legislative politics has uncovered associations between the Big Five personality traits and myriad phenomena in the United States Congress. This literature raises new questions about political representation in terms of the Big Five, specifically, whether voters are more likely to support legislators with similar personality traits to their own, who would presumably have similar process preferences, or legislators with valence personality traits, regardless of congruence, which are associated with better leadership. We first revisit the measurement validity of voter assessments of legislator personality in the 2014 and 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Studies to demonstrate that such survey items are meaningful. Subsequently, we use these data to construct measures of personality congruence and valence and apply them to predict voters' job approval of legislators. Our results support the claim that voters evaluate legislators' job performance on the basis of perceived valence traits rather than legislators' congruence to voters' own personality dispositions.



Pigeonholing Partisans: Stereotypes of Party Supporters and Partisan Polarization

Abstract

What comes to mind when people think about rank-and-file party supporters? What stereotypes do people hold regarding ordinary partisans, and are these views politically consequential? We utilize open-ended survey items and structural topic modeling to document stereotypes about rank-and-file Democrats and Republicans. Many subjects report stereotypes consistent with the parties' actual composition, but individual differences in political knowledge, interest, and partisan affiliation predict their specific content. Respondents varied in their tendency to characterize partisans in terms of group memberships, issue preferences, or individual traits, lending support to both ideological and identity-based conceptions of partisanship. Most importantly, we show that partisan stereotype content is politically significant: individuals who think of partisans in a predominantly trait-basedmanner—that is, in a way consistent with partisanship as a social identity—display dramatically higher levels of both affective and ideological polarization.



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