Department of Political Science

Flip-Floppers and Wafflers: Explanations and Repositioning

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearch

  • Joshua Robison
Repositioning by political elites plays a key role in a variety of political phenomena, including legislative policymaking, and campaigning. However, the likely electoral consequences from repositioning remain unclear due to conflicting results from the empirical literature. I contribute to this literature by showing that repositioning’s influence on evaluations depends on beliefs citizens make concerning why the policy switch occurred, beliefs that are, in turn, structured by the communication environment surrounding such switches. Specifically, I use two large national survey experiments to show that repositioning elites who provide a satisfactory explanation for their change in position escape evaluative harm from their actions and that this occurs even among individuals who lost proximity from the elite’s change in position and among those from a different party as the elite. This study thus has important implications not just for this particular element of elite behavior, but also related questions concerning governmental accountability and representation.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventMidwest Political Science Association - Chicago, United States
Duration: 13 Apr 201518 Apr 2015


ConferenceMidwest Political Science Association
CountryUnited States

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