Elite Cues and Popular Apolitical Issues: Evidence from Daylight Savings Time
14 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2021
Date Written: May 25, 2021
Although much is known about the nature of elite influence on public opinion, its limits remain unclear. One area where elite cues might be less powerful is on popular apolitical issues that are part of everyday life. The current study investigates this question through a useful example: making daylight savings time (DST) permanent. This idea, where opinions likely already developed based on personal experiences outside politics, is broadly supported but non-politicized. In 2019, it received public support on Twitter by a prominent party leader -- then-president Donald Trump. Using his real endorsement tweet as a treatment, two survey experiments show Trump moves Republicans to favor and Democrats to oppose making DST permanent. But effects are weak in terms of size and significance -- especially when compared to party leader effects in other contexts -- perhaps revealing limits on elite influence in a popular apolitical realm. In this context, the study also provides suggestive evidence that expressive responding does not plague elite cue effects.
Keywords: elite cues, public opinion, daylight savings time, apolitical issues, survey experiment, Twitter
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