Institut for Statskundskab

Gaps in Political Interest: Following Public Affairs in Surveys from Gallup, Pew, and the ANES

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  • Joshua Robison
Political interest fundamentally influences political behavior, knowledge, and persuasion (Brady, Verba, & Schlozman, 1995; Delli Carpini & Keeter, 1996; Luskin, 1990; Zukin, Andolina, Keeter, Jenkins, & Delli Carpini, 2006). Since the early 1960s, the American National Election Studies (ANES) has sought to measure respondents’ general interest in politics by asking them how often they follow public affairs. In this article, we uncover novel sources of measurement error concerning this question. We first show that other nationally representative surveys that frequently use this item deliver drastically higher estimates of mass interest. We then use a survey experiment included on a wave of the ANES’ Evaluating Government and Society Surveys (EGSS) to explore the influence of question order in explaining this systemic gap in survey results. We show that placing batteries of political participation questions or feeling thermometer items before this measure significantly influences reports of mass interest. Ultimately, the results reported here serve as further caution on the use of this measure.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftInternational Journal of Public Opinion Research
Vol/bind27
Nummer3
Sider (fra-til)406-416
Antal sider11
ISSN0954-2892
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 2015

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