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Journal Article

Shortcuts Versus Encyclopedias: Information and Voting Behavior in California Insurance Reform Elections

Arthur Lupia
The American Political Science Review
Vol. 88, No. 1 (Mar., 1994), pp. 63-76
DOI: 10.2307/2944882
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2944882
Page Count: 14
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Shortcuts Versus Encyclopedias: Information and Voting Behavior in California Insurance Reform Elections
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Abstract

Voters in mass elections are notorious for their apparent lack of information about relevant political matters. While some scholars argue that an electorate of well-informed voters is necessary for the production of responsive electoral outcomes, others argue that apparently ignorant voters will suffice because they can adapt their behavior to the complexity of electoral choice. To evaluate the validity of these arguments, I develop and analyze a survey of California voters who faced five complicated insurance reform ballot initiatives. I find that access to a particular class of widely available information shortcuts allowed badly informed voters to emulate the behavior of relatively well informed voters. This finding is suggestive of the conditions under which voters who lack encyclopedic information about the content of electoral debates can nevertheless use information shortcuts to vote as though they were well informed.

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