What drives voters' perceptions of partisan cooperation? In this note, we investigate whether voters have accurate beliefs about which parties regularly cooperate with one another, and whether these beliefs follow the real-time portrait of cooperation and conflict between parties that is reported in the news. We combine original survey data of voters' perceptions of party cooperation in four countries over two time periods with a measure of parties' public relationships as reported by the media. We find that voters' perceptions of cooperation and conflict among parties do reflect actual patterns of interactions. This pattern holds even after controlling for policy differences between parties as well as joint cabinet membership. Furthermore, we show that the impact of contemporary events on cooperation perceptions is most pronounced for voters who monitor the political news more carefully. Our findings have important implications for partisan cooperation and mass-elite linkages. Specifically, we find that contrary to the usual finding that voters are generally uninformed about politics, voters hold broadly accurate beliefs about the patterns of partisan cooperation, and importantly, these views track changes in relevant news. This reflects positively on the masses' capacities to infer parties' behaviors.
- Habitual News Reception
- Mass Media
- Partisan Cooperation
- Public Opinion
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Political Science and International Relations