The Effects of Political Arguments on Voting Decisions

Note short: 
13.02.2023 - 12:00 to 13:30
Location : 
A 5,6 Raum A 231 and Zoom
Type of Event : 
AB B-Kolloquium
Denise Traber
Lecturer affiliation: 
University of Basel

The question of what role political arguments play in democracy has taken centre stage in times of populism, post-truth discourse, and identity politics. It is relevant to analyse how political arguments affect policy preferences, but also how these effects carry over to the election of representatives. In this article, we test the persuasive effect of policy arguments on voting de- cisions. We combine a persuasion experiment using policy arguments with a conjoint experiment, in which voters choose between two candidates who differ in various policy positions. We conduct the experiment with two rep- resentative samples of the German voting-age population in June 2021 and August 2022 before the Election. In addition to testing the downstream effects of arguments on candidate choice, we distinguish between a persuasive effect of policy arguments (i.e. they affect vote decisions by changing the direction of policy preferences) and a priming effect of arguments (i.e. they affect vote decisions by changing the salience of policy preferences). The findings show that persuasion plays a more central role in how arguments shape voters’ decision making. The results have a multitude of implications for the role of political arguments in Democracies, political campaigns, and party competition.