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

See all articles by Kaiping Chen

Kaiping Chen

Stanford University, School of Humanities & Sciences, Department of Communication

Nathan Lee

Stanford University, Department of Political Science

William Marble

Stanford University, Department of Political Science

Date Written: November 30, 2018

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Chen, Kaiping and Lee, Nathan and Marble, William, Do Elected Officials Listen to Constituents on Digital Media? Evidence From a Conjoint Survey Experiment With Local U.S. Politicians (November 30, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3251651 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3251651

Kaiping Chen

Stanford University, School of Humanities & Sciences, Department of Communication ( email )

CA
United States

Nathan Lee (Contact Author)

Stanford University, Department of Political Science ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://people.stanford.edu/nathanrl/

William Marble

Stanford University, Department of Political Science ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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