Conservative Bias in Perceptions of Public Opinion Among American Political Elites

The conservative asymmetry of elite polarization and the right-skewed “democratic deficit”—wherein policy is more conservative than majorities prefer on average—represent significant puzzles. We argue that such breakdowns in aggregate representation can arise because politicians systematically misperceive constituency opinion. We demonstrate this argument in US states, where conservative citizens are more active in the public spheres politicians monitor, which we hypothesized might distort politicians’ perceptions of public opinion. CONT.

David E. Broockman (Stanford) & Christopher Skovron (U. of Michigan), SSRN