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How the polls can be both spot on and dead wrong: using choice blindness to shift political attitudes and voter intentions.

Hall, Lars LU ; Strandberg, Thomas LU ; Pärnamets, Philip LU ; Lind, Andreas LU ; Tärning, Betty LU and Johansson, Petter LU (2013) In PLoS ONE 8(4).
Abstract
Political candidates often believe they must focus their campaign efforts on a small number of swing voters open for 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? We tested this premise during the most recent general election in Sweden, in which a left- and a right-wing coalition were locked in a close race. We asked our participants to state their voter intention, and presented them with a political survey of wedge issues between the two coalitions. Using a sleight-of-hand we then altered their replies to place them in the opposite political camp, and invited them to reason about their... (More)
Political candidates often believe they must focus their campaign efforts on a small number of swing voters open for 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? We tested this premise during the most recent general election in Sweden, in which a left- and a right-wing coalition were locked in a close race. We asked our participants to state their voter intention, and presented them with a political survey of wedge issues between the two coalitions. Using a sleight-of-hand we then altered their replies to place them in the opposite political camp, and invited them to reason about their attitudes on the manipulated issues. Finally, we summarized their survey score, and asked for their voter intention again. The results showed that no more than 22% of the manipulated replies were detected, and that a full 92% of the participants accepted and endorsed our altered 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 maximally 10% voters open for a swing. Our results indicate that political attitudes and partisan divisions can be far more flexible than what is assumed by the polls, and that people can reason about the factual issues of the campaign with considerable openness to change. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
PLoS ONE
volume
8
issue
4
publisher
Public Library of Science
external identifiers
  • wos:000317382000020
  • pmid:23593244
  • scopus:84876014742
ISSN
1932-6203
DOI
10.1371/journal.pone.0060554
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
69527f47-096d-4146-81ad-bea047ee9025 (old id 3733686)
date added to LUP
2013-05-08 11:21:05
date last changed
2019-02-20 07:20:04
@article{69527f47-096d-4146-81ad-bea047ee9025,
  abstract     = {Political candidates often believe they must focus their campaign efforts on a small number of swing voters open for 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? We tested this premise during the most recent general election in Sweden, in which a left- and a right-wing coalition were locked in a close race. We asked our participants to state their voter intention, and presented them with a political survey of wedge issues between the two coalitions. Using a sleight-of-hand we then altered their replies to place them in the opposite political camp, and invited them to reason about their attitudes on the manipulated issues. Finally, we summarized their survey score, and asked for their voter intention again. The results showed that no more than 22% of the manipulated replies were detected, and that a full 92% of the participants accepted and endorsed our altered 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 maximally 10% voters open for a swing. Our results indicate that political attitudes and partisan divisions can be far more flexible than what is assumed by the polls, and that people can reason about the factual issues of the campaign with considerable openness to change.},
  articleno    = {e60554},
  author       = {Hall, Lars and Strandberg, Thomas and Pärnamets, Philip and Lind, Andreas and Tärning, Betty and Johansson, Petter},
  issn         = {1932-6203},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {4},
  publisher    = {Public Library of Science},
  series       = {PLoS ONE},
  title        = {How the polls can be both spot on and dead wrong: using choice blindness to shift political attitudes and voter intentions.},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0060554},
  volume       = {8},
  year         = {2013},
}