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How Elitism Undermines the Study of Voter Competence


  • Lupia, Arthur


A form of elitism undermines much writing on voter competence. The elitist move occurs when an author uses a self-serving worldview as the basis for evaluating voters. Such elitism is apparent in widely cited measures of “political knowledge” and in common claims about what voters should know. The elitist move typically limits the credibility and practical relevance of the analysis by leading writers to draw unreliable conclusions about voter competence. I propose a more constructive way of thinking about what voters know. Its chief virtue is its consistency with basic facts about the relationship between information and choice.

Suggested Citation

  • Lupia, Arthur, 2006. "How Elitism Undermines the Study of Voter Competence," MPRA Paper 349, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:349

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lupia,Arthur & McCubbins,Mathew D., 1998. "The Democratic Dilemma," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521585934.
    2. Lupia,Arthur & McCubbins,Mathew D., 1998. "The Democratic Dilemma," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521584487.
    3. Arthur Lupia, 2005. "Necessary Conditions for Improving Civic Competence: A Scientific Perspective," Public Economics 0510008, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lupia, Arthur & Prior, Markus, 2005. "What Citizens Know Depends on How You Ask Them: Political Knowledge and Political Learning Skills," MPRA Paper 103, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 25 Sep 2006.
    2. Ben Baumberg Geiger, 2016. "Benefit ‘myths’? The accuracy and inaccuracy of public beliefs about the benefits system," CASE Papers /199, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
    3. Arthur Lupia & Adam S. Levine & Jesse O. Menning & Gisela Sin, 2005. "Were Bush Tax Cut Supporters “Simply Ignorant?” A Second Look at Conservatives and Liberals in “Homer Gets a Tax Cut”," Public Economics 0510004, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Petr Špecián, 2017. "Ekonomická analýza referenda [Economic Analysis of a Referendum]," Politická ekonomie, Prague University of Economics and Business, vol. 2017(4), pages 460-475.
    5. William J Berger & Adam Sales, 2020. "Testing epistemic democracy’s claims for majority rule," Politics, Philosophy & Economics, , vol. 19(1), pages 22-35, February.
    6. T.K. Ahn & John Barry Ryan, 2015. "The overvaluing of expertise in discussion partner choice," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 27(3), pages 380-400, July.
    7. Dylan Bugden, 2022. "Denial and distrust: explaining the partisan climate gap," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 170(3), pages 1-23, February.

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    More about this item


    information; search; competence; political knowledge; public policy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H00 - Public Economics - - General - - - General
    • Y80 - Miscellaneous Categories - - Related Disciplines - - - Related Disciplines
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty

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