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Lupia: Shortcuts versus encyclopedias

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Lupia. 1994. Shortcuts versus encyclopedias: Information and voting behavior in California insurance reform elections. APSR 88:63-76.

In Brief

This is the usual Lupia argument (see Lupia 1992, Lupia and McCubbins 1998, and Lupia et al. 2005). Voters don't have to be perfectly informed "encyclopedias" in order to vote as if they were. They can rely on informational shortcuts (like third-party endorsers).


Lupia demonstrates this empirically. There was a California initiative about insurance reform--a subject about which most voters know very little. Surveys asked people not only how they voted on the reform, but also tried to determine how much people knew about (1) the specific policies at question and (2) the views of various interest groups. Those voters who knew only what the different interest groups were saying voted the same way as those voters who knew the details about the policy reforms. Thus, shortcut-users vote the same as encyclopedias.

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