How politicians evaluate public opinion - 2022 - 2026

"In democracies, policies are expected to be responsive to public opinion. Extant research showed that responsiveness is selective. It varies across issues, time and countries. Yet, how come policies vary in their responsiveness has not received a satisfying answer."

"POLEVPOP formulates and examines a novel answer to the puzzle why policy responsiveness varies. Its core argument holds that politicians evaluate public opinion and let their actions—in line with public opinion or going against it— depend on their appraisal. When public opinion is evaluated negatively, it has no  effect  on  what  politicians  do;  that  it  is  evaluated  positively  increases  the chance that politicians act congruently. Politicians’ appraisal of public opinion has been completely overlooked as a mechanism bringing about responsive representation.   Considering   it   a   core   factor   POLEVPOP   examines   three matters:

(1) which criteria politicians use to appraise public opinion;

(2) how, depending on the opinion content of the message, the channel through which the opinion is conveyed and the group from which it comes, concrete public opinion signals are evaluated; and,

(3) which effect these evaluations have on politicians’  political  action. 

The  central  expectation  is  that  public  opinion  is evaluated by politicians based on a consistent and common scoreboard. For instance,   opinion   signals   are   rated   based   on   their   representativity   and underlying  public  opinion  is  evaluated  on  its  quality  and  its  intensity.  The project tackles these matters drawing on a comparative study in eight different countries   (Australia,   Belgium,   Canada,   Czech   Republic,   Israel,   Portugal, Switzerland, and Sweden). In two consecutive rounds of data gathering, a large sample of politicians is surveyed and interviewed, and they are subjected to a series   of   survey-embedded   experiments.   To   put   politicians’   behavior   in perspective,  their  answers  are  compared  to  parallel  citizen  surveys  in  all countries."


Mis à jour le 3 août 2023