Ulric B. and Evelyn L. Bray Seminar in Political Economy
Policy Diffusion and Crafted Political Talk
Abstract: "We examine whether public support for a potential new policy depends on activity on that policy in other states. Guided by results in the policy diffusion literature indicating that policies tend to diffuse between similar states we test whether public opinion responds differently to policy activity in similar, dissimilar, or innovative states. Theories of policy diffusion via social learning suggest that citizens should respond more to activities in similar and potentially innovative states than to those in dissimilar states. Using data from a survey experiment on the 2014 Cooperative Congressional Elective Study we find evidence consistent with this expectation: referencing policy activity in a similar state increases support by nearly ten percentage points than when referencing activity in a dissimilar state. Politicians may be aware of this effect as we also find that governors reference similar states more often and different states less often in their state of the state speeches."