Misperceptions in polarized politics: The role of knowledge, religiosity, and media

Michael A. Cacciatore, Sara K. Yeo, Dietram A. Scheufele, Michael A. Xenos, Doo Hun Choi, Dominique Brossard, Amy B. Becker, Elizabeth Corley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Many Americans hold distorted views of elected officials and, as our study shows, the blame is due partly to our ideological biases and partly to mass media. Analyzing a nationally representative online survey, we corroborate recent research that found that one in five Americans still believe president Barack Obama is a Muslim and that almost seven in ten mistakenly think Sarah Palin, and not Saturday Night Live's Tina Fey, was the first to say I can see Russia from my house. Although race, political ideology, and born-again or evangelical Christian status were the primary drivers of misperceptions about Obama's faith, media use had a more crucial role in predicting the more widespread misperception about Palin. Misattribution of the Fey quote to Palin was greatest among heavy viewers of traditional news media and late-night TV comedy, which is suggestive of the lamestream media effect often espoused by prominent Republican figures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)654-661
Number of pages8
JournalPS - Political Science and Politics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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