Note: This workshop is open only to faculty and scholars at Stanford University and other academic institutions, not the general public.
When do policymakers listen to experts? A large literature in the study of political behavior suggests that contemporary political polarization has compromised our capacity to achieve “evidenced-based policymaking.” However, this literature primarily draws on surveys of the mass public, and often relies on single-issue studies. By leveraging a novel online survey of local and state policymakers across the United States, I evaluate responsiveness to a series of brief messages concerning a range of politically polarized issues where there nonetheless exist well-established findings from domain-relevant expert communities (needle exchanges, GMOs, and rent control). These brief messages modestly but consistently move policymakers’ stated preferences (4-9%-pts) toward those of the relevant expert communities, irrespective of the partisan congeniality of the evidence. These findings suggest that, despite growing concerns over partisan-motivated misinformation and the “death of expertise”, the pursuit of evidence-based policymaking remains viable.
About the Project on Democracy and the Internet Workshop Series:
The Project on Democracy and the Internet organizes regular workshops, hosted by Nathaniel Persily, James B. McClatchy Professor of Law at Stanford, for scholars studying democracy in the digital age. The goal of this workshop series is to increase the sense of intellectual community and enhance the overall quality of research as we build this new field of study.