Original Paper

Political Behavior

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 567-585

First online:

The Role of Media Distrust in Partisan Voting

  • Jonathan McDonald LaddAffiliated withDepartment of Government and Georgetown Public Policy Institute, Georgetown University Email author 

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As an institution, the American news media have become highly unpopular in recent decades. Yet, we do not thoroughly understand the consequences of this unpopularity for mass political behavior. While several existing studies find that media trust moderates media effects, they do not examine the consequences of this for voting. This paper explores those consequences by analyzing voting behavior in the 2004 presidential election. It finds, consistent with most theories of persuasion and with studies of media effects in other contexts, that media distrust leads voters to discount campaign news and increasingly rely on their partisan predispositions as cues. This suggests that increasing aggregate levels of media distrust are an important source of greater partisan voting.


News media Trust Voting Party identification Media skepticism