Noam Titelman and Benjamin E Lauderdale, “Can Citizens Guess How Other Citizens Voted Based on Demographic Characteristics?”, Political Science Research and Methods

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How well do citizens understand the associations between social groups and political divisions in their societies? Previous research has indicated systematic biases in how the demographic composition of party supporters are perceived, but this need not imply that citizens misperceive the likely voting behaviour of specific individuals. We report results from two experiments where subjects were provided with randomly selected demographic profiles of respondents to the 2017 British Election Study (BES) and then asked to assess either (1) which party that individual was likely to have voted for in the 2017 UK election or (2) whether that individual was likely to have voted Leave or Remain in the 2016 UK referendum on EU membership. We find that, despite substantial overconfidence in individual responses, on average citizens’ guesses broadly reflect the actual distribution of groups supporting the parties and referendum positions.

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