Credible sources and sophisticated voters: When does new information induce economic voting?


When does new economic information cause voters to reevaluate the government’s competence and ultimately vote economically? Since politically relevant information is often conveyed by actors with incentives to influence voter perceptions, the credibility of information sources can vary significantly. This article randomly varies whether voters receive an aggregate unemployment forecast from the central bank, government or main opposition party using a survey experiment in Denmark linked to detailed panel data. We find that politically sophisticated voters discern differences in institutional credibility and the political cost of the signal and update their unemployment expectations accordingly. Despite failing to differentiate political costs, unsophisticated voters still substantially update their expectations. However, while sophisticated voters intend to engage in substantial prospective economic voting, unsophisticated voters do not relate their new unemployment expectations to their vote intention. These findings suggest that economic information supports economic voting most when it is credible and reaches sophisticated voters.

Journal of Politics 78(2)