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Values, Theories and Pragmatism: The Economic Ideas of British and German Politicians.
How do voters react when politicians implement policies that have a clear – positive or negative – impact on their personal economic situation? Our ability to answer this question is limited, because existing literature has not been able to credibly identify the effects of a policy reform that clearly helps or hurts voters on their attitude towards this policy and the parties responsible for implementing it. In this project, we use a large-scale field experiment to study a complicated property tax reform in Denmark. Using administrative registries to recruit some of those voters most affected by the reform, we inform randomly selected subsets of voters about the consequences of the tax reform and who (i.e., which political party) was responsible. Our results show that self-interest powerfully shapes voters’ perception and evaluation of the policy, but that political party leaders, by taking responsibility, can win public support even for a reform with negative consequences, without being punished by voters. These results advance our understanding of the potential of political leadership to shape public opinion.
Rune Slothuus is a Professor of Political Science at Aarhus University in Denmark. Rune Slothuus studies public opinion, political psychology and political communication. His current research focuses on how citizens form political opinions in response to communication from elites (e.g., frames, arguments, and cues), with a particular interest in how citizens use messages from political parties to form opinions and make political decisions. He has published on these topics in American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics and British Journal of Political Science, among others, and received multiple awards for his research. Professor Slothuus leads the research group “PARTYOPINION – The Informational Role of Political Parties in Citizens’ Opinion Formation,” funded by an ERC Consolidator Grant.
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April 29, 2022