Do Elected Officials Listen to Constituents on Digital Media? Evidence From a Conjoint Survey Experiment With Local U.S. Politicians
54 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2018 Last revised: 29 Nov 2018
Date Written: November 30, 2018
Constituents increasingly turn to digital media to communicate with their elected representatives. However, little is known about how responsive policymakers are to these messages compared with traditional forms of communication. To answer this question, we fielded a conjoint experiment with a national sample of local U.S. politicians to measure responsiveness to different types of constituent messages. Our findings indicate that the increase in constituent participation and diversity associated with digital media positively affect reported responsiveness. However, the increased incivility, difficulty identifying constituents on digital media, and the sheer volume of messages more than offset these effects. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that the dramatic reduction in the cost of communication that has made digital media a popular form of constituent-to-policymaker communication may also undermine policymakers' responsiveness to it. Practically, our findings show that traditional media continues to be a more effective way to communicate with policymakers.
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