ABSTRACT Contrary to LaurelGleason's assertions, Deliberative Polling among random samples is not a process that is dominated by ?experts? or by certain categories of deliberator; it produces genuine gains among the participants in knowledge of information that has been verified as true and relevant; it does not cause ideological polarization; and it is not intended as a substitute for, rather than a supplement to, deliberation on the part of the general public.
Using data from a randomized field experiment within a Deliberative Poll, we examine deliberation’s effects on both policy attitudes and the extent to which ordinal rankings of policy options approach single-peakedness (a help in avoiding cyclical majorities). The issues were airport expansion and revenue-sharing in New Haven, Connecticut and its surrounding towns. Half the participants deliberated revenue-sharing, then the airport, the other half the reverse. This split-half design enables us to distinguish the effects of the formal on-site deliberations from those (...) of other aspects of the Deliberative Polling treatment. We find that the formal on-site deliberations accounted for much of the Deliberative Polling effect on one issue, though not the other—thus both confirming deliberation’s capacity to shape attitudes and preferences and raising the question of how its effects may depend on the kind of issue being deliberated. We suggest that deliberation’s effects are larger for less salient issues. (shrink)
Majority cycling and related social choice paradoxes are often thought to threaten the meaningfulness of democracy. But deliberation can prevent majority cycles – not by inducing unanimity, which is unrealistic, but by bringing preferences closer to single-peakedness. We present the first empirical test of this hypothesis, using data from Deliberative Polls. Comparing preferences before and after deliberation, we find increases in proximity to single-peakedness. The increases are greater for lower versus higher salience issues and for individuals who seem to have (...) deliberated more versus less effectively. They are not merely a byproduct of increased substantive agreement (which in fact does not generally increase). Our results both refine and support the idea that deliberation, by increasing proximity to single-peakedness, provides an escape from the problem of majority cycling. (shrink)