Political Polarization and the Electoral Effects of Media Bias
Many political commentators diagnose an increasing polarization of the U.S. electorate into two opposing camps. However, in standard spatial voting models, changes in the political preference distribution are irrelevant as long as the position of the median voter does not change. We show that media bias provides a mechanism through which political polarization can affect electoral outcomes.In our model, media firms’ profits depend on their audience rating. Maximizing profits may involve catering to a partisan audience by slanting the news. While voters are rational, understand the nature of the news suppression bias and update appropriately, important information is lost through bias, potentially resulting in inefficient electoral outcomes. We show that polarization increases the profitability of slanting news, thereby raising the likelihood of electoral mistakes. We also show that, if media are biased, then there are some news realizations such that the electorate appears more polarized to an outside observer, even if citizens’ policy preferences do not change.
|Date of creation:||2006|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Poschingerstrasse 5, 81679 Munich|
Phone: +49 (89) 9224-0
Fax: +49 (89) 985369
Web page: http://www.cesifo-group.de
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Timothy Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1994.
"Voting Behavior and Information Aggregation in Elections with Private Information,"
1117, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
- Timothy Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1997. "Voting Behavior and Information Aggregation in Elections with Private Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(5), pages 1029-1058, September.
- Timothy Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1997. "Voting Behavior and Information Aggregation in Elections With Private Information," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1560, David K. Levine.
- Jeffrey Milyo & Tim Groseclose, 2005.
"A Measure of Media Bias,"
0501, Department of Economics, University of Missouri, revised 25 Aug 2005.
- Timothy J. Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1995.
"The Swing Voter's Curse,"
1064, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
- Baron, David P., 2006. "Persistent media bias," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1-2), pages 1-36, January.
- Sendhil Mullainathan & Andrei Shleifer, 2002.
NBER Working Papers
9295, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Sendhil Mullainathan & Andrei Shleifer, 2002. "Media Bias," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1981, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
- Alan Gerber & Daniel Bergan & Dean Karlan, 2009.
"Does the media matter? A field experiment measuring the effect of newspapers on voting behavior and political opinions,"
Natural Field Experiments
00252, The Field Experiments Website.
- Alan S. Gerber & Dean Karlan & Daniel Bergan, 2009. "Does the Media Matter? A Field Experiment Measuring the Effect of Newspapers on Voting Behavior and Political Opinions," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 35-52, April.
- Gerber, Alan & Karlan, Dean & Bergan, Daniel, 2006. "Does The Media Matter? A Field Experiment Measuring the Effect of Newspapers on Voting Behavior and Political Opinions," Working Papers 12, Yale University, Department of Economics.
- César Martinelli, 2004.
"Would Rational Voters Acquire Costly Information?,"
122247000000000593, UCLA Department of Economics.
- DellaVigna, Stefano & Kaplan, Ethan, 2006.
"The Fox News Effect: Media Bias and Voting,"
748, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
- Bernhardt, Dan & Krasa, Stefan & Polborn, Mattias, 2008.
"Political polarization and the electoral effects of media bias,"
Journal of Public Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1092-1104, June.
- Dan Bernhardt & Stefan Krasa & Mattias Polborn, 2006. "Political Polarization and the Electoral Effects of Media Bias," CESifo Working Paper Series 1798, CESifo Group Munich.
- Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2006.
"Media Bias and Reputation,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(2), pages 280-316, April.
- Martin J. Osborne, 1995. "Spatial Models of Political Competition under Plurality Rule: A Survey of Some Explanations of the Number of Candidates and the Positions They Take," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 28(2), pages 261-301, May.
- Baron, David P., 2004. "Persistent Media Bias," Research Papers 1845r, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
- Wittman, Donald, 1989. "Why Democracies Produce Efficient Results," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1395-1424, December.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_1798. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Klaus Wohlrabe)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.