Can Elites Persuade Elites?: The Effect of Partisan Elite Cues on Attitudes Towards Black Lives Matter and Environmental Policy Among State-level Democratic Committee Members


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Type of Work


Hood College Political Science


Hood College Departmental Honors

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Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States


Research shows that elite cues influence citizen attitudes toward issues and policies, but it is relatively unknown if elite cues influence elites. Through an experimental survey of 102 Democratic Central Committee members in Maryland, I find that elites can be influenced by ideological cues with limited effects. A progressive Democrat cue elicits a more moderate response whereas a moderate Democrat cue elicits a more progressive response. Through the lens of social identity, I infer that there are intraparty in-group and out-group categorizations within the Democratic Party that exist between moderates and progressives, and I test the theory through an experimental survey with ideological cue attributions. I find high support for the Black Lives Matter movement and relatively low support for policy efforts to defund the police. I further find that there is a gender gap on the experimental effects of cue taking across racial and environmental issues. Finally, my findings suggest the Democratic Party should use moderate frames, voices, or attributions when attempting to advance a progressive agenda.