Northwestern University

Wed 12:00 PM

WED@NICO SEMINAR: Chris Skovron, Northwestern Data Science Scholar "What Politicians Believe About Public Opinion"

Chris Skovron

When: Wednesday, February 14, 2018
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM  

Where: Chambers Hall, Lower Level, 600 Foster St, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: Free

Contact: Yasmeen Khan   847.491.2527

Group: Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems (NICO)

Category: Academic

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Chris Skovron, Data Science Scholar, Institute for Policy Research and the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems, Northwestern University.


What Politicians Believe About Public Opinion


Many political advocates express frustration that public policy does not correspond with majority public opinion, even on salient issues that are the topic of significant public debate and polling. In my research, I propose a possible explanation for disconnects between public opinion and policy: politicians systematically misperceive their constituents’ opinions. Using thousands of original surveys of American politicians as well as fine-grained estimates of district-level public opinion, I show that Republican politicians consistently and strongly overestimate public support for conservative issue positions. I consider possible explanations for these trends, especially how politicians perceive different citizens’ likelihood of voting.

Speaker Bio:

Christopher Skovron is a political scientist who studies American politics with a focus on representation. He is a data science postdoctoral scholar at the Institute for Policy Research and the Institute on Complex Systems at Northwestern University. His research considers how people (mis)perceive public opinion in the United States. Using original data from surveys of candidates for office, political party leaders, and the public, he finds that all three groups significantly misperceive public opinion on some of the most salient issues of contemporary American politics. Pacific Standard magazine named Chris one of their “30 Top Thinkers Under 30.” Chris received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Michigan in 2017.

About the Speaker Series:

Wednesdays@NICO is a vibrant weekly seminar series focusing broadly on the topics of complex systems and data science. It brings together attendees ranging from graduate students to senior faculty who span all of the schools across Northwestern, from applied math to sociology to biology and every discipline in-between. 

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