Study: Lawmakers Assume Voters Are Way More Conservative Than They Are
Researchers from UC Berkeley and the Univeristy of Michigan dug up some surprising results after posing the question: How much do lawmakers really know about their voters' political views?
"Pick an American state legislator at random, and chances are that he or she will have massive misperceptions about district views on big-ticket issues, typically missing the mark by 15 percentage points," David Broockman and Christopher Skovron wrote in a study for the Scholarly Strategy Network originally published in 2013.
To investigate the question, the duo surveyed thousands of state legislators and compared their perceptions of voters to people's actual views, derived from a large body of public opinion data.
Their conclusion: "legislators usually believe their constituents are more conservative than they actually are."
On three issues — universal healthcare, same-sex marriage, and welfare — lawmakers' assumptions about what their constituents believed were "15-20 percent more conservative, on average," than the actual base of public support for such issues.
Read more: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/study-lawmakers-liberal-conservative-assume
Source: Scholars Strategy Network
Breaking down misperceptions by the leanings of legislators reveals further imbalances:
The typical conservative legislator overestimates his or her district’s conservatism by a whopping 20 percentage points. Indeed, he or she believes the district is even more conservative than the most right-leaning district in the entire country.
Liberals also think their constituents’ views are more conservative than they really are, but are typically only off by about five percentage points.
Most conservative legislators believe their positions on same-sex marriage and health care command majority support in their districts – but only two-fifths are correct. In contrast, liberal legislators usually share views with constituents, but one in five does not know it.
Read more: http://www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org/content/politicians-think-american-voters-are-more-conservative-they-really-are