Monday, September 15, 2014

*The Shifts and the Shocks* A politician can influence voters even by opposing opinion

INK BOTTLE“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked.” 
~ Steve Jobs, Stanford University commencement address (2005)

“Tell me something I don’t know” is looking for participants

*The Shifts and the Shocks*

That is by Martin Wolf and the subtitle is What We’ve Learned — And Still Have to Learn — From the Financial Crisis.  You can buy it here.
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A politician can influence voters just by stating an opinion, even an opposing opinion

There is a new research paper by David E. Broockman and Daniel M. Butler (pdf), the abstract is this:
Politicians have been depicted as, alternatively, strongly constrained by public opinion, able to shape public opinion if they persuasively appeal to citizens’ values, or relatively unconstrained by public opinion and able to shape it merely by announcing their positions. We conduct unique field experiments in cooperation with legislators to explore how constituents react when legislators take positions they oppose. For the experiments, state legislators sent their constituents official communications with randomly assigned content. In some letters, the representatives took positions on salient issues these constituents opposed, sometimes supported by extensive arguments but sometimes minimally justified. Results from an ostensibly unrelated telephone survey show that citizens often adopted their representatives’ issue positions even when representatives offered little justification. Moreover, citizens did not evaluate their representatives more negatively when representatives took positions citizens opposed. These findings suggest politicians can enjoy broad latitude to shape public opinion.
I suppose Alex Salmond is one current leader who understands this, Putin is another.
For the pointer I thank the excellent Samir Varma, who also cites coverage from Wonkblog.