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Saturday, January 3, 2015

Participation and Policy Preferences

At The Washington Post's Monkey Cage blog, Jenny Oser, Jan E. Leighley and Ken Winneg write of four types of voters:
(1)“All-around activists” (5 percent of voters), who are highly active in all participatory opportunities.
(2)“Traditional campaigners” (8 percent of voters), who are particularly active in traditional offline campaign activity.

(3)“Persuaders” (12 percent of voters), who are highly engaged in online means to communicate directly to representatives.
(4)“Low engaged” (76 percent of voters), who are unlikely to be politically active beyond voting.
We then compared the policy preferences of non-voters to the preferences of these four types of participators on key campaign issues in the 2008 election, namely tax policy, health-care regulation, environmental protection and abortion (Figure 2). Our evidence suggests that there is little difference between the preferences of nonvoters and those who vote but do little else. However, we did find meaningful differences among the different types of voting participators in their views on important policy issues in the 2008 campaign. Policy-relevant findings include three main points:
  • All-around activists consistently report different policy views from those who vote but do little else.
  • The “traditional campaigners” (with an offline focus) and the “persuaders” (with an online focus) are different from low-engaged voters on the environment and abortion issues.
  • We see the greatest difference in policy preferences between the different types of participators (Figure 2a) on tax policy, the most salient policy issue in the 2008 campaign.
Here is an abstract of their original piece in Social Science Quarterly