April 7, 2013

Echo Chamber: We Hear Our Own Elites, but Not the Other Side's

I've often felt that on the conservative side there is much deference to leaders, from whom the grassroots sometimes takes its cue when there is doubt on an issue.

The Frum Forum:

Two Rutgers professors "discover" the powerful influence of elites on party opinion:

[W]hile we find no evidence that the conservative advocacy frames alone influence Republican support at the mass level, attaching a Republican elite to the “golden rule” frame seems to make a notable difference. When we show that Mehlman supports same-sex marriage and does so for reasons consistent with his partisanship and ideology, it appears to give Republicans “permission” to be more inclined to do the same – or to at least considerably reduce their opposition in exchange for increased indecision. This result suggests that as more Republican elites “come out” in support for the issue, their personal endorsements of the “conservative case” for same-sex marriage may have the potential to change the game among Republicans, who are otherwise lagging greatly as overall attitudes rapidly move in a more supportive direction.

However, no one tested the liberal side of arguments:

And, as the side-note, I'm curious if the authors could apply a similar idea to Democrats and entitlement reform. Any time I so much as mention cutting payroll taxes, even within frames like helping the working poor, providing economic stimulus, and helping encourage economic growth to better the programs' long-term outlook, I'm met with serious hostility. But if President Obama were to make similar arguments, I imagine he'd receive a very different reception.

That's partisan politics 101. Can anyone fund a study on the subject?

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