Candidate preferences and expectations of election outcomes
Analysis of data from the American Life Panel shows that in the presidential election of 2008 and in multiple statewide elections in 2010, citizens exhibited large differences in their expectations of election outcomes. Expectations were strongly positively associated with candidate preferences, persons tending to believe that their preferred candidate is more likely to win the election. Committed supporters of opposing candidates regularly differed by 20–30% in their assessments of the likelihood that each candidate would win. These findings contribute evidence on the false consensus effect, the empirical regularity that own preferences tend to be positively associated with perceptions of social preferences. We used unique measures of preferences and perceptions that enabled respondents to express uncertainty flexibly. We studied a setting that would a priori seem inhospitable to false consensus—one where persons have little private information on social preferences but substantial common knowledge provided by media reports of election polls.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume and page numbers
109 , 3711 -3715
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