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Researchers: Television Has Strongest Impact on Voter Preferences

A team of researchers from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) have come up with a methodological experiment that reveals the factors determining the emergence and development of voter attitudes and preferences, BAS said in a press release on Tuesday. The experiment was developed as part of a research project implemented in 2020-2022 by the Centre for Empirical Social Studies of BAS’s Institute of Philosophy and Sociology. 
The findings showed that TV is the factor with the strongest influence on the formation of voter attitudes, followed by politicians and their public appearances. In particular, TV appearances of politicians in news casts, talk shows and discussion panels, have an extremely strong potential to influence voter preferences. 
The third strongest factor are the social media. Other factors with significant influence are the radio, the electronic versions of print media, their hard-copy versions, other news outlets and portals, as well as the comments of public experts. 
The project studied the processes of formation of public opinions and identified mathematical modelling means to improve  the sociological tools to predict the development of public attitudes regarding issues of critical importance for the Bulgarian society. Project manager Prof. Emilia Chengelova told BTA that the team now has the final analyses. 
The experiment that was conducted demonstrated that voters’ attitudes are formed under the influence of a complex set of factors. 
The findings of the experiment showed that 28% of respondents in opinion polls about voting attitudes deliberately give misleading answers while 30% are prone to change their mind at the last moment and vote for a party with greater chances of winning. 
The researchers note that the experiment has again raised the question of the so-called silent voters who wait to see who the winner is going to be and cast their vote at the last possible moment. The phenomenon has a psychological explanation as people want to be on the side of the winner and not associated with the runner who lost the political game. Thus, it turns out that these silent voters in fact determine the outcome of the ballot because their votes tip the scales one way or another.