Would you be less likely to support a policy if Barack Obama was in favor of it? Would it make a difference if George W. Bush were in favor it? Although there are many sources of the opinions we hold, I examined whether people are likely to hold different opinions on a policy depending on […]

Avoiding liability is profitable – potentially very profitable.  The ability to escape blame offers decision makers opportunities to enact policies that are morally reprehensible or costly for others.  Think about the executive committee of a firm (their actions affect shareholders and consumers), a governing coalition (voters are affected by their decisions), or members of a […]

Scholars disagree about how people form attachments to parties.  One camp views these attachments as a social identity, inherited like a religious affiliation and tending to persist over an individual’s life.  A second camp views party attachments as a “running tally” of a citizen’s evaluations of the parties over time.  From this perspective, partisanship is […]

A longstanding belief among many political scientists is that citizens have relatively few stable opinions. UCLA Professor John Zaller titled a chapter of his seminal book on public opinion, “Making it up as you go along,” implying that opinions on many (or perhaps most) issues are quite fleeting. This skepticism comes in large part from […]

A generation ago, if ordinary Americans turned on the TV at 6 PM, they had basically one choice: to watch the evening news. They could have chosen to watch ABC, CBS, or NBC, but it wouldn’t really have mattered, because they all basically gave the same news in a similar format. Today, if they did […]

With so much talk of gridlock in Washington, scholars have begun to turn our focus toward “who gets things done” in Congress.  In our article, “When are Women More Effective Lawmakers than Men?“,  we draw on the Legislative Effectiveness Scores created by Volden and Wiseman as part of their forthcoming book on effective lawmaking in […]

During political campaigns in Latin America it is not uncommon to hear NGOs, journalists, academics or even politicians denounce that certain parties or candidates engage in clienelistic practices such as vote buying. These actors tend to argue that clientelism has a negative impact on the quality of democracy, distorting the general will and generating poverty […]

Imagine if on the next major Election Day, American voters woke up unable to remember any facts they had learned about the issue stances of political candidates. Could voters still pick their favored candidate? Or, are they up a creek without a paddle? In fact, a form of this scenario happens every election day. It […]

Every election cycle, candidates spend millions in the hopes of making a lasting impression on voters. The extent to which campaigns are able to capture the public’s attention long enough to matter has been an age old debate. Recent research suggests that voters may have even shorter political attention spans than previously believed. In her […]

In recent years, both scholars and journalists have heralded the benefits that derive from large, diverse groups when it comes to making better informed, and hence, more accurate decisions. This logic is perhaps best exemplified by a pair of terrific books on this topic by James Surowiecki’s New York Times Business Bestseller The Wisdom of […]


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