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Monday, July 15, 2019

Legislators and Constituent Opinion

Joshua L. Kalla and Ethan Porter have a paper titled "Correcting Bias in Perceptions of Public Opinion Among American Elected Officials: Results from Two Field Experiments."  The abstract:
While concerns about the public’s receptivity to factual information are widespread, much less attention has been paid to the factual receptivity, or lack thereof, of elected officials. Recent survey research has made clear that U.S. legislators and legislative staff systematically misperceive their constituents’ opinions on salient public policies. We report results from two field experiments designed to correct misperceptions of sitting U.S. legislators. The legislators (n=2,346) were invited to access a dashboard of constituent opinion generated using the 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Study. Here we show that despite extensive outreach efforts, only 11% accessed the information. More troubling for democratic norms, legislators who accessed constituent opinion data were no more accurate at perceiving their constituents’opinions. Our findings underscore the challenges confronting efforts to improve the accuracy of elected officials’ perceptions and suggest that elected officials may be more resistant to actual information than the mass public