Study Shows Disconnect between Politicians and Voters

Sunday, March 24, 2013

New research shows many politicians are not in tune with their constituents, and tend to overestimate their conservatism on social issues.


Professors David Broockman of the University of California at Berkeley and Christopher Skovron of the University of Michigan talked to nearly 2,000 state legislative candidates in last year’s election to find out how they viewed their constituents on issues like same-sex marriage, universal health care and welfare programs.


What they found was that constituents tended to support gay marriage and universal health care by 10% more than their representatives had assumed.


The disconnect was even greater among conservative politicians, who tend to be 20% more conservative than the people they represent.


“For perspective, 20 percentage points is roughly the difference in partisanship between California and Alabama,” the researchers wrote. “Most politicians appear to believe they are representing constituents who are considerably different than their actual constituents.”


About 70% of liberal officeholders underestimate support for liberal positions among their constituents.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Politicians Massively Overestimate Conservatism Of Constituents: Study (by Luke Johnson, Huffington Post)

What Politicians Believe About Their Constituents: Asymmetric Misperceptions and Prospects for Constituency Control (by David E. Broockman and Christopher Skovron) (pdf)

The Numbers Prove it: The GOP is Estranged from America (by Andrew Kohut, Washington Post)


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