Framing blame: toward a better understanding of the effects of populist communication on populist party preferences

<p>Although previous research has argued that the media play a crucial role in populism’s success, we know too little about <i>how</i> populist messages affect preferences for populist parties. To advance this knowledge, we conducted an experiment in which the core of populist rhetoric – constructing the people as innocent in-group opposed to the establishment as culprit out-group – was manipulated in news articles. The findings indicate that when political elites are blamed for a salient national problem, people are <i>more</i> likely to vote for a populist party and <i>less</i> likely to vote for the largest party in government. Populist vote intentions are <i>indirectly</i> affected via blame perceptions. These findings offer important insights into the media’s role in the electoral success of populism.</p>