How People Make Sense of Politics

Katherine Cramer, University of Wisconsin-Madison

In election season, incessant polls track the horse race. But Katherine Cramer Walsh's innovative research probes more deeply. By inviting herself into daily conversations at coffee shops and other community gathering spots, she learns how citizens react to issues and candidates – as they figure out what "people like us" should think and do.

Read Walsh's brief on how people think about politics here, and further explore her findings in two additional SSN briefs explaining why many Americans resent public employees and how rural people view government and political parties.

Learn more about Walsh and her research and civic involvements and listen to Walsh's interview with David Schaper of National Public Radio on the intense political divisions in her home state of Wisconsin. These divisions gained expression in the recent battles over Governor Scott Walker's legislation to restrict union benefits and rights, and are likely to find expression again in the November 2012 elections.

September 2012