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http://ssrn.com/abstract=1802625
 
 

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The Political Consequences of Uninformed Voters


Anthony Fowler


affiliation not provided to SSRN

Michele Margolis


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science

March 30, 2011

MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2011-12

Abstract:     
Survey researchers have long known that Americans fail to meet the democratic ideals of an informed electorate. The consequences of this political ignorance, however, are less clear. In two independent settings, we experimentally test the effect of political information on citizens’ attitudes toward the major parties. When uninformed citizens receive political information, they systematically shift their political preferences away from the Republican Party and toward the Democrats. In contrast to the optimistic claims that political ignorance is compensated through other mechanisms, our results suggest that the lack of information in the current American electorate typically produces results that differ from the ideal counterfactual world where all voters are informed.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 45

Keywords: survey experiment, public opinion, electoral bias, political information

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Date posted: April 5, 2011 ; Last revised: February 9, 2012

Suggested Citation

Fowler, Anthony and Margolis, Michele, The Political Consequences of Uninformed Voters (March 30, 2011). MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2011-12. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1802625 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1802625

Contact Information

Anthony Fowler
affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )
Michele Margolis (Contact Author)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science ( email )
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States
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