A Measurement Gap? Effect of Survey Instrument and Scoring on the Partisan Knowledge Gap


Research shows that partisan gaps in political knowledge are wide and widespread. Using a series of experiments, we investigate the extent to which partisan gaps are a result of differences in beliefs than motivated guessing, on-the-spot inferences, cheerleading, and other such processes. We manipulate common features of knowledge items in commercial surveys and find that they inflate the partisan gap in beliefs by 40%. The artificially large partisan gaps in commercial polls are partly a result of item features that cause people who don’t know to offer a substantive response. In all, we find that partisans know far less and the absolute magnitude of the partisan gap in beliefs is substantially smaller

Partisan Gaps in Knowledge