Costly Values: Values-Based Justifications Exacerbate the Consequences of Policy Disagreements for Politician Support
39 Pages Posted: 5 May 2014
Date Written: May 4, 2014
Politicians regularly communicate their policy positions to the public. These statements are rarely a simple description of the politician’s stance on an issue. Rather, legislators typically offer both a positional cue informing the public of what position they take and a policy justification stating why they take that position. In this study we use two survey experiments to explore the extent to which evidence and values-based justifications alter the dynamics of spatial voting on an issue of importance in contemporary American politics, the debate over the appropriate income tax rates for wealthy individuals. We find that values-based justifications backfire and decrease a candidate’s support among voters who oppose their policy stance. We also show that, in general, employing a justification does not increase a candidate’s support.
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