Do Politicians Outside the United States Also Think Voters Are More Conservative than They Really Are?

Jean Benoit Pilet, Lior Sheffer, Luzia Helfer, Frederic Varone, Rens Vliegenthart, Stefaan Walgrave

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In an influential recent study, Broockman and Skovron (2018) found that American politicians consistently overestimate the conservativeness of their constituents on a host of issues. Whether this conservative bias in politicians' perceptions of public opinion is a uniquely American phenomenon is an open question with broad implications for the quality and nature of democratic representation. We investigate it in four democracies: Belgium, Canada, Germany, and Switzerland. Despite these countries having political systems that differ greatly, we document a strong and persistent conservative bias held by a majority of the 866 representatives interviewed. Our findings highlight the conservative bias in elites' perception of public opinion as a widespread regularity and point toward a pressing need for further research on its sources and impacts.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Political Science Review
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


FundersFunder number
Frédéric Varone and Luzia Helfer
Rens Vliegenthart and Toni van der Meer
Stefaan Walgrave
Wallonia and Brussels-Belgium: Jean-Benoit Pilet and Nathalie Brack
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
Australian Flora Foundation
Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Förderung der Wissenschaftlichen Forschung100017_172559
Fonds De La Recherche Scientifique - FNRST.0182.18
Fonds Wetenschappelijk OnderzoekG012517N


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