Partisan Bias in Factual Beliefs about Politics

Citation:

Bullock JG, Gerber AS, Hill SJ, Huber GA. Partisan Bias in Factual Beliefs about Politics. Quarterly Journal of Political Science. 2015;(March) :1–73.

Abstract:

Partisanship seems to affect factual beliefs about politics. For example, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say that the deficit rose during the Clinton administration; Democrats are more likely to say that inflation rose under Reagan. What remains unclear is whether such patterns reflect differing beliefs among partisans or instead reflect a desire to praise one party or criticize another. To shed light on this question, we develop a model of partisan survey response and report two experiments that are based on the model. The experiments show that small payments for correct and “don't know” responses sharply diminish the gap between Democrats and Republicans in responses to “partisan” factual questions. Our conclusion is that the apparent gulf in factual beliefs between members of different parties may be more illusory than real.