Butler and De La O on the causal effect of media-driven political interest (Quarterly Journal of Political Science)

A recent article, “The Causal Effect of Media-Driven Political Interest on Political Attitudes and Behavior,” by Daniel Butler and Ana De La O, appeared in the July issue of the Quarterly Journal of Political Science.

Abstract: This article considers the hypothesis that media-driven political interest shapes party identification, the timing of vote decisions, and electoral participation. To estimate the effect of media-driven political interest, we make a key distinction between political interest as a lifetime political orientation and political interest that rises and falls with the occurrence of noteworthy political events. We then exploit the shared media markets in Switzerland and its neighboring countries to overcome the otherwise crippling endogeneity problem and identify exogenous increases in Swiss citizens’ self-reported political interest caused by the coverage of national elections in France, Germany, and Italy. We find that media-driven political interest increases the length of time individuals use to make their vote decisions, decreases partisanship, and increases self-reported and actual turnout.