Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2241024
 


 



Systematically Biased Beliefs About Political Influence: Evidence from the Perceptions of Political Influence on Policy Outcomes Survey


Bryan Caplan


George Mason University - Center for Study of Public Choice

Eric Crampton


University of Canterbury - Economics and Finance

Wayne A. Grove


Le Moyne College - Department of Economics

Ilya Somin


George Mason University School of Law

March 28, 2013

PS: Political Science & Politics, Forthcoming
George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 13-24
GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 13-09

Abstract:     
Many scholars argue that "retrospective voting" is a powerful information shortcut that offsets widespread voter ignorance. Even relatively ignorant voters, it is claimed, can punish incumbents for bad performance and reward them if things go well. But if voters' understanding of which officials are responsible for which issues is systematically biased, retrospective voting becomes an independent source of political failure rather than a cure for it. We designed and administered a new survey of the general public and political experts to test for such biases. Our analysis reveals frequent, large, robust biases in voter attributions of responsibility for a wide array of political actors and outcomes, with an overarching tendency for the public to overestimate influence, though there are also important examples of underestimation.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 25

Keywords: Achen, Bartels, beliefs, budget, Congress, Cutler, economy, education, failure, Federal Reserve Board, federalism, government, ignorance, informed, lay versus expert opinion, peace, policies, politics, polls, president, prosperity, responsibility attribution, results, safety, success, voter bias

JEL Classification: D72, F51, H11, H73, H77, I28, K42

Accepted Paper Series


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Date posted: March 29, 2013 ; Last revised: April 21, 2013

Suggested Citation

Caplan, Bryan and Crampton, Eric and Grove, Wayne A. and Somin, Ilya, Systematically Biased Beliefs About Political Influence: Evidence from the Perceptions of Political Influence on Policy Outcomes Survey (March 28, 2013). PS: Political Science & Politics, Forthcoming; George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 13-24; GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 13-09. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2241024

Contact Information

Bryan Caplan (Contact Author)
George Mason University - Center for Study of Public Choice ( email )
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States
703-993-2324 (Phone)
703-993-2323 (Fax)
Eric Crampton
University of Canterbury - Economics and Finance ( email )
Private Bag 4800
Christchurch
New Zealand
64 3 364 2824 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.canterbury.ac.nz/personal_pages/eric_crampton
Wayne A. Grove
Le Moyne College - Department of Economics ( email )
1419 Salt Springs Road
Syraucse, NY 13214
HOME PAGE: http://webserver.lemoyne.edu/grovewa/
Ilya Somin
George Mason University School of Law ( email )
3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States
703-993-8069 (Phone)
703-993-8124 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://mason.gmu.edu/~isomin/
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