Message distortion as a campaign strategy: Does rival party distortion of focal party position affect voters? - Zeynep Somer-Topcu

3:30pm - 5:00pm / Thursday 18th February 2021
Type: Seminar / Category: Department
  • Admission: This is a free event, however, please register via the Eventbrite link provided
  • Book now
  • Add this event to my calendar

    When you click on "Add this event to my calendar" your browser will download an ics file.

    Microsoft Outlook: Download the file, then you may be able to click on "Save & Close" to save it to your calendar. If that doesn't work go into Outlook, click on the File tab, then on Open, then Import. Select "Import an iCalendar (.ic or vCalendar file (.vcs)" then click on Next. Find the .ics file and click on OK.

    Google Calendar: download the file, then go into your calendar. On the right where it says "Other calendars" click on the arrow icon and then click on Import calendar. Click on Browse and select the .ics file, then click on Import.

    Apple Calendar: download the file, then you can either drag it to Calendar or import the file by going to File > Import > Import and choosing the .ics file.

Do voters understand party positions? A growing literature is interested in answering this question but has limited its focus on parties’ own policy messages. In real life, parties are engaged in constant exchange with their rivals about their policy positions, which creates possibilities for partisan rivals to misconstrue each other’s policy messages. Using experimental and large-scale cross-national data, we show that such message distortion by rival parties significantly moves voters’ perceptions away from where the party locates itself and toward the distorted position. Furthermore, contrary to expectations from the literature on partisan motivated reasoning, this effect holds for all voters, regardless of whether they support the rival party, the focal party, or neither. These findings have important implications for our understanding of voter perceptions, partisan bias, and party strategies.

Bio: Zeynep Somer-Topcu is an associate professor of Government at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research interests include European party politics, elections, representation, and voter behavior. Her work so far has appeared in the American Journal of Political Science, British Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, among other journals. She is currently working on a series of projects examining campaign strategies of political parties and the electoral and perceptual consequences of parties' campaign positions