Can Inaccurate Beliefs about Incumbents be Changed? And Can Reframing Change Votes?
Can independent groups change voters' beliefs about an incumbent's positions? And, does reframing how candidates' are perceived by changing beliefs about their positions influence actual vote choices? Past laboratory and observational research suggests that candidate reframing is difficult and of little consequence because the messages must be believed despite competing messages, counter-framing and misinformation. We report the results of a field experiment conducted during a highly competitive 2008 US Senate election showing that independent organizations can meaningfully reframe candidates, and that reframing can affect vote choice. Two pro-choice organizations administered an inexpensive mail and phone intervention correcting a prevalent false belief that the incumbent was pro-choice. This modest reframing intervention enduringly corrected the beliefs of one-third of misinformed participants, and induced a sizable proportion to align their vote choices with their policy priorities.
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