Political Science Now

Yes, But Did They Learn Anything? An Experimental Investigation of Voter Decision Making on Foreign Policy Issues

Yes, But Did They Learn Anything? An Experimental Investigation of Voter Decision Making on Foreign Policy Issues

Jacqueline M. Sievert, (@jm_sievert), Bowling Green State University
Michael K. McDonald, Western Carolina University
Charles J. Fagan, Western Carolina University
Niall Michelsen, Western Carolina University

Do short, interactive presentations on foreign policy issues affect voting behavior among students? Did the information presented increase students’ understanding of foreign policy in evaluating and candidates? And did this information lead to sustained changes in students’ preferences? In the weeks prior to the North Carolina primary students attended a panel discussion of the foreign policy positions of the presidential candidates and were given pre- and post-treatment questions on the general foreign policy knowledge and voting intentions. By using real-time polling technology, we find that while foreign policy issues tend not to be the primary motivation for voting for a particular candidate there is preliminary evidence that shows presentations of specific policy positions can influence students’ political preferences and increase their knowledge of foreign policy issues.  Increased information on candidates’ positions led to more students who felt Hillary Clinton’s positions most closely reflected their own, and a shift in votes toward Clinton.

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PS: Political Science & PoliticsVolume 49, Issue 4 (Elections in Focus) / October 2016 pp. 880-884