We argue that the kind of political information voters should possess varies contextually in response to relevant political processes. Focusing on the partisan organization of legislatures, we derive hypotheses for what the typical American should know about politics at the national and state level and test these hypotheses in two studies. The first documents a dramatic change in American political knowledge at the national level in response to polarization—the replacement of individually oriented information with partisan information. While voters’ ability to identify the candidates running to represent them in Congress has been cut in half, their ability to rank order the parties ideologically has nearly doubled. The second study provides evidence that voters are better able to identify the majority party in their state legislature where partisan control of the legislative agenda and roll‐call voting is stronger. We conclude by discussing the implications of our findings.
|Journal||Legislative Studies Quarterly|
|Number of pages||45|
|Publication status||Published - May 2021|