Measuring Voters' Knowledge of Political News

53 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2020

See all articles by Charles Angelucci

Charles Angelucci

MIT Sloan

Andrea Prat

Columbia University - Columbia Business School, Finance; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: August 2020

Abstract

We propose a methodology to measure knowledge of news about recent political events that combines a protocol for identifying stories, a quiz to elicit knowledge, and the estimation of a model of individual knowledge that includes difficulty, partisanship, and memory decay. We focus on news about the Federal Government in a monthly sample of 1,000 US voters repeated 11 times. People in the most informed tercile are 97% more likely than people in the bottom tercile to know the main story of the month. We document large inequalities across socioeconomic groups, with the best-informed group over 14 percentage points more likely to know the typical story compared to the least-informed group. Voters are 10-30% less likely to know stories unfavorable to their political party. Also, each month passing lowers the probability of knowing a story by 3-4 percentage points. We repeat our study on news about the Democratic Party primaries.

Suggested Citation

Angelucci, Charles and Prat, Andrea, Measuring Voters' Knowledge of Political News (August 2020). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP15222, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3688176

Charles Angelucci (Contact Author)

MIT Sloan ( email )

100 Main Street
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

Andrea Prat

Columbia University - Columbia Business School, Finance ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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