Attitudes toward electoral college reform: Understanding opinion formation on complicated public policy issues

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Abstract

This article examines opinion dynamics on the complicated public policy issue of Electoral College reform. The study shows how partisan perceptions and political sophistication affect opinion on Electoral College reform. Taking advantage of an experiment and of an analysis of polls after the 2000 election, this study finds that those with higher levels of political sophistication were more likely to oppose reform. Proponents of reform often rely on simple majoritarian arguments while those opposed to reform are forced to justify the Electoral College based on more complicated arguments involving federalism and support for the two-party system. Those with higher levels of political sophistication were more likely to understand, and hence accept, difficult arguments made by opponents of reform. Partisanship also played an important influence in shaping attitudes toward the Electoral College.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-288
Number of pages24
JournalPolitics and Policy
Volume37
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2009

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