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Learning from Polls During Electoral Campaigns


Stoetzer, Lukas F; Leemann, Lucas; Traunmueller, Richard (2024). Learning from Polls During Electoral Campaigns. Political Behavior, 46(1):543-564.

Abstract

Voters’ beliefs about the strength of political parties are a central part of many foundational political science theories. In this article, we present a dynamic Bayesian learning model that allows us to study how voters form these beliefs by learning from pre-election polls over the course of an election campaign. In the model, belief adaptation to new polls can vary due to the perceived precision of the poll or the reliance on prior beliefs. We evaluate the implications of our model using two experiments. We find that respondents update their beliefs assuming that the polls are relatively imprecise but still weigh them more strongly than their priors. Studying implications for motivational learning by partisans, we find that varying adaptation works through varying reliance on priors and not necessarily by discrediting a poll’s precision. The findings inform our understanding of the consequences of learning from polls during political campaigns and motivational learning in general.

Abstract

Voters’ beliefs about the strength of political parties are a central part of many foundational political science theories. In this article, we present a dynamic Bayesian learning model that allows us to study how voters form these beliefs by learning from pre-election polls over the course of an election campaign. In the model, belief adaptation to new polls can vary due to the perceived precision of the poll or the reliance on prior beliefs. We evaluate the implications of our model using two experiments. We find that respondents update their beliefs assuming that the polls are relatively imprecise but still weigh them more strongly than their priors. Studying implications for motivational learning by partisans, we find that varying adaptation works through varying reliance on priors and not necessarily by discrediting a poll’s precision. The findings inform our understanding of the consequences of learning from polls during political campaigns and motivational learning in general.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Sociology and Political Science
Uncontrolled Keywords:Sociology and Political Science
Language:English
Date:1 March 2024
Deposited On:07 Feb 2023 18:15
Last Modified:29 Mar 2024 02:38
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0190-9320
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s11109-022-09837-8
Project Information:
  • : FunderPrivate Universität Witten/Herdecke gGmbH
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • Content: Published Version
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)