The POLPOP II project (formally known as POLEVPOP) examines how politicians evaluate public opinion. POLPOP II  builds on the foundations laid by the previous POLPOP I project, which focused on elites' perceptions of public opinion. The project starts from the assumption that in democracies policies are expected to be responsive to public opinion. Extant research showed that responsiveness is selective. It varies across issues, time and countries. Yet, how come policies vary in their responsiveness has not received a satisfying answer. POLPOP II formulates and examines a novel answer to the puzzle why policy responsiveness varies. Its core argument holds that politicians evaluate public opinion and let their actions—in line with public opinion or going against it—depend on their appraisal. When public opinion is evaluated negatively, it has no effect on what politicians do; that it is evaluated positively increases the chance that politicians act congruently. Politicians’ appraisal of public opinion has been completely overlooked as a mechanism for bringing about responsive representation. The central expectation is that public opinion is evaluated by politicians based on a consistent and common scoreboard. For instance, opinion signals are rated based on their representativity and underlying public opinion is evaluated on its quality and its intensity. The project tackles these matters drawing on a comparative study in fourteen different countries. In two consecutive rounds of data gathering, a large sample of politicians is surveyed and interviewed, and they are subjected to a series of survey-embedded experiments. To put politicians’ behavior in perspective, their answers are compared to parallel citizen surveys in all countries.  

The project is funded by the European Union in the framework of an ERC Advanced Grant “How politicians evaluate public opinion”. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Research Council Executive Agency. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.