Media and Gridlock

31 Pages Posted: 18 Dec 2011 Last revised: 18 Jul 2014

Daniel F. Stone

Bowdoin College - Department of Economics

Date Written: September 1, 2012


I develop a model of the relation between the media environment and political obstructionism. I show that when centrist voters are less informed by media, obstructionism becomes a more effective political signal for the minority party. The model thus implies that media change can cause gridlock via signaling; by contrast, the previous literature on causes of gridlock focuses on polarization and other factors. The model also makes auxiliary predictions consistent with several recent trends in U.S. politics: polarization of partisan voters' beliefs about the opposition's performance, declining majority party approval ratings, increased political turnover, declining opposition party approval ratings even just prior to turnover, and exacerbation of these effects as approval ratings decline.

Keywords: media, polarization, gridlock, blogs, elections

JEL Classification: D72, D83, L82

Suggested Citation

Stone, Daniel F., Media and Gridlock (September 1, 2012). Journal of Public Economics, Vol. 101, 2013. Available at SSRN: or

Daniel F. Stone (Contact Author)

Bowdoin College - Department of Economics ( email )

Brunswick, ME 04011
United States
6463387833 (Phone)

Register to support our free research


Paper statistics

Abstract Views