Horse-race polls and audience issue learning

Xinshu Zhao, Glen L. Bleske

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Media critics often complain about too much coverage of "horse-race" polls.A common assumption sustaining this criticism is that such coverage competes with issue coverage. We propose the opposite, that horse-race polls might increase voters' attention to other election messages, including issue information, which in turn leads to a better understanding of public policies.To test these competing theories, we conducted three studies during the 1992 presidential elections controlled experiment, a statewide one-time survey, and a three-county two-wave panel survey. Each of the studies reports a positive relationship between horse-race polls and issue knowledge.The two surveys also report positive correlations between exposure or attention to polls and exposure or attention to general election coverage, which in turn is positively correlated with issue knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-34
Number of pages22
JournalHarvard International Journal of Press/Politics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1998

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science


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