Partisan bias in surveys

John G. Bullock, Gabriel Lenz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


If citizens are to hold politicians accountable for their performance, they probably must have some sense of the relevant facts, such as whether the economy is growing. In surveys, Democrats and Republicans often claim to hold different beliefs about these facts, which raises normative concerns. However, it is not clear that their divergent survey responses reflect actual divergence of beliefs. In this review, we conclude that partisan divergence in survey responses is often not due to sincere, considered differences of belief that fall along party lines-but determining what it is due to is difficult. We review the evidence for possible explanations, especially insincere responding and congenial inference. Research in this area is still nascent, and much more will be required before we can speak with precision about the causes of partisan divergence in responses to factual questions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-342
Number of pages18
JournalAnnual Review of Political Science
StatePublished - May 11 2019


  • incentives
  • motivated reasoning
  • partisan bias
  • partisan cheerleading
  • partisanship
  • surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Partisan bias in surveys'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this