Lethal Incompetence: Voters, Officials, and Systems

Critical Review, Vol. 20, pp. 1-24, March 2008

23 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2012

See all articles by Jonathan Bendor

Jonathan Bendor

Stanford Graduate School of Business

John G. Bullock

Northwestern University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: March 1, 2008

Abstract

The study of voter competence has made significant contributions to our understanding of politics, but at this point there are diminishing returns to the endeavor. There is little reason, in theory or in practice, to expect voter competence to improve dramatically enough to make much of a difference, but there is reason to think that officials’ competence can vary enough to make large differences. To understand variations in government performance, therefore, we would do better to focus on the abilities and performance of officials, not ordinary citizens.

Keywords: competence, civic competence, incompetence, political sophistication, political knowledge, political information, Condorcet, jury theorem, information aggregation, electoral college

JEL Classification: D72

Suggested Citation

Bendor, Jonathan and Bullock, John G., Lethal Incompetence: Voters, Officials, and Systems (March 1, 2008). Critical Review, Vol. 20, pp. 1-24, March 2008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2041524

Jonathan Bendor

Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )

655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States

John G. Bullock (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Department of Political Science ( email )

601 University Place (Scott Hall)
Evanston, IL 60201
United States

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