Politicians Appear more Competent when Using Numerical Rhetoric

Rasmus T. Pedersen

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    Politically relevant numbers often have very limited effects on the policy attitudes of ordinary citizens, which make the widespread use of numbers by politicians somewhat puzzling. This paper argues that politicians’ numerical rhetoric may function as a voter heuristic and that the use of numbers by politicians therefore has a positive impact on voters’ perceptions of these politicians. A survey experiment confirms that even when numbers do little to move voters’ policy positions, numbers do have the effect of making politicians appear more competent. As a consequence, numerical rhetoric can in some cases increase electoral support for a politician.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Experimental Political Science
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)129-150
    Number of pages22
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

    Bibliographical note

    Published online: 11. September 2017


    • Public opinion
    • Voting behavior
    • Voter heuristics
    • Candidate traits
    • Survey experiments

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