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How Elitism Undermines the Study of Voter Competence

Lupia, Arthur (2006): How Elitism Undermines the Study of Voter Competence. Forthcoming in: Critical Review , Vol. 18,

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Abstract

A form of elitism undermines much writing on voter competence. The elitist move occurs when an author uses a self-serving worldview as the basis for evaluating voters. Such elitism is apparent in widely cited measures of “political knowledge” and in common claims about what voters should know. The elitist move typically limits the credibility and practical relevance of the analysis by leading writers to draw unreliable conclusions about voter competence. I propose a more constructive way of thinking about what voters know. Its chief virtue is its consistency with basic facts about the relationship between information and choice.

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