Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Magical survey shows voters are less partisan than indicated by polls

Date:
April 11, 2013
Source:
Lund University
Summary:
Traditional opinion polls may severely underestimate the openness for political change among voters, according to new research.

A step-by-step demonstration of the manipulation procedure.
Credit: Image courtesy of Lund University

Traditional opinion polls may severely underestimate the openness for political change among voters, according to research published on 10 April in the open access journal PLOS ONE.

Polarisation and partisanship in politics are a constant topic of discussion, and political candidates often believe they must focus their campaign efforts on a small number of swing voters open to ideological change. Based on the wisdom of opinion polls, this might seem like a good idea. But do most voters really hold their political attitudes so firmly that they are unreceptive to persuasion?

In the study, led by Lars Hall and Petter Johansson of Lund University, Sweden, the researchers wanted to see just how open voters are to change in the final weeks before a general election. To do so, they first asked people to state their voting intentions for the upcoming election, and presented them with a political survey of wedge issues that separated the two coalitions in the race. The questions concerned familiar issues like income taxation, unemployment insurance, and environmental policies on petrol and nuclear power that traditionally divides the left and right wing.

The special thing about this survey was that the researchers used sleight of hand to secretly alter the responses of the participants, instead placing them in the opposite political camp, and invited them to reason about their attitudes on these reversed issues. Then the researchers created a summary score on the survey, and asked for the participants' voting intentions again.

What the results showed was that only 22% of the manipulated responses were corrected and that a full 92% of the participants accepted and endorsed the reversed political survey score. Furthermore, the final voter intention question indicated that as many as 48% (±9.2%) were willing to consider a left-right coalition shift. This can be contrasted with the established polls tracking the Swedish election, which registered a maximum of 10% of voters open to a swing across the partisan divide.

The authors conclude that political attitudes and partisan affiliations can be far more flexible than what is assumed by the polls, and that people can reason about the issues of the campaign with considerable openness to change. Commenting on the study, Lars Hall says, "it is comforting to know only five dollars' worth of paper and glue is required to make this point, rather than a billion dollar campaign industry. I believe our method is a terrific educational tool to dramatise the potential for political change."

However, he stresses that this was an anonymous research study, where the purpose of the experiment was explained to the participants at the end. It would be unethical as an applied instrument of persuasion.

Petter Johansson says, "Our results show there is a world beyond ideological labels and partisan divisions. But the question remains of how to enter this world with no sleight of hand to pave the way. Now, it's up to the politicians to somehow find more neutral ground, and get people to engage with the factual issues of the campaigns."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Lund University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Lars Hall, Thomas Strandberg, Philip Pδrnamets, Andreas Lind, Betty Tδrning, Petter Johansson. How the Polls Can Be Both Spot On and Dead Wrong: Using Choice Blindness to Shift Political Attitudes and Voter Intentions. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (4): e60554 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0060554

Cite This Page:

Lund University. "Magical survey shows voters are less partisan than indicated by polls." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130411075452.htm>.
Lund University. (2013, April 11). Magical survey shows voters are less partisan than indicated by polls. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130411075452.htm
Lund University. "Magical survey shows voters are less partisan than indicated by polls." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130411075452.htm (accessed July 26, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath

Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath

AP (July 25, 2014) — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe toured the Cherrystone Family Camping and RV Resort on the Chesapeake Bay today, a day after it was hit by a tornado. The storm claimed two lives and injured dozens of others. (July 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Richard III's Car Park Burial Site Opens to Public

Richard III's Car Park Burial Site Opens to Public

AFP (July 25, 2014) — Visitors will be able to look down from a glass walkway on the grave of King Richard III when a new centre opens in the English cathedral city of Leicester, where the infamous hunchback was found under a car park in 2012. Duration: 00:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites

Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites

AP (July 25, 2014) — Emory University's Center for Digital Scholarship has launched a self-guided mobile tour app to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War's Battle of Atlanta. (July 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) — An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins