“Local Politics, National Influence: An Experiment on Support for Police Reform Policy.”
Status: Conducting experiment – accepted for presentation at MPSA 2020
Abstract: The effect of partisan cues in shaping public opinion has been well established in political science. When the public is given a partisan cue, such as a party’s position on a proposed policy, the public adjusts their opinions to be in line with their preferred party’s position. Based on these findings, public attitudes towards policing policy should be similarly affected by partisan cues. Yet, national partisan cues about policing policy may often come into conflict with local narratives about policing incidents. For example, a Democratic cue may inherently frame the police as prone to use excessive force against innocent victims, yet local events may present the policy as being overwhelmed by well-armed criminals. This study uses an experiment to address how public opinion about police reform policy proposals is affected when partisan cues come into conflict with local narratives about policing. Subjects are placed in treatment groups where they receive information about the two major parties’ positions on a policy, information about a local officer-involved shooting in lieu of party cues, or both pieces of information. A pre-test / post-test design is used to assess how the information affects the subjects’ opinion about policing reform policy proposals. The expectation is that local narratives will decrease subjects’ reliance on partisan cues, resulting in opinions that are less in line with the position of a subject’s preferred party.