“Having their Say: Authority, Voice, and Satisfaction with Democracy”, an article co-authored with Eric Merkley, Fred Cutler and Paul Quirk (political scientists at the University of British Columbia), has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Politics.
Abstract: Scholars have shown that citizen satisfaction with democracy is driven, in part, by having their policy preferences represented in government – authority – and that this is facilitated by “consensus” democratic institutions. Receiving far less attention has been whether such institutions also increase satisfaction by simply providing more inclusive political discourse. Citizens may value having their voice represented in politics, independent of authority. This paper presents the first experimental evidence to this effect by conducting a simulated election campaign while manipulating both the election result and the discussion of a policy issue that subjects cared about. The results show that subjects were less satisfied with democracy when they lost the simulated election, but that this gap disappeared when exposed to discussion of an issue they broadly cared about. This suggests that consensus institutions may have the capacity to cushion the blow of losing by producing more inclusive discourse.