The Competing Influence of Policy Content and Political Cues: Cross-Border Evidence from the United States and Canada


When individuals evaluate policies, they consider both the policy’s content and its endorsers. In this study, we investigate the conditions under which these sometimes competing factors guide preferences. In an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19, American President Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau bilaterally agreed to close their shared border to refugee claimants and asylum seekers. These ideologically opposed leaders endorsing a common policy allows us to test the influence of a well-known foreign neighbor on domestic policy evaluations. With a large cross-national survey experiment, we first find that Canadians and Americans follow ideological positions in evaluating the policy, with right-leaning respondents offering the most support. With an experiment, we reveal how both populations shift their views when told about their neighboring leader’s endorsement. Our findings highlight ideologically motivated reasoning across an international border, with broad implications for understanding how individuals weigh a policy’s content against its political cues.

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License CC BY
Type Journal Articles
C-ID POLS 130 - Comparative