Partisan Bias in Politicians’ Perception of Scandals
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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- Scientific articles 
Original versionSchönhage, N. L., & Geys, B. (2021). Partisan bias in politicians’ perception of scandals. Party Politics. https://doi.org/10.1177/1354068821998024 10.1177/1354068821998024
Do politicians perceive scandals differently when they implicate members of their own party rather than another party? We address this question using a between-subject survey experiment, whereby we randomly assign UK local councillors (N = 2133) to vignettes describing a major national-level scandal in their own party versus another party. Our results show that local politicians perceive a significantly larger impact of this national scandal on the national party image when it concerns their own party (relative to another party). When evaluating the same scandal’s impact on the local party image, no similar effect is observed. This suggests that local politicians tone down the local impact of a national scandal more when thinking about their own party. We suggest this derives from a form of motivated reasoning whereby politicians selectively focus on information allowing a more negative view of direct electoral opponents. These findings arise independent of the type of scandal under consideration.