We examine the effect of public protest on policy by considering how protests may matter to lawmakers. Research on this topic suggests that protest signals information to lawmakers about citizen preferences. Empirical work finds that the strength of the signal sent by protest can influence its effectiveness in achieving desired policy goals. We build on this insight by arguing that signal clarity is also important. Public protests sending focused and clear messages to lawmakers are more likely to impact policy than protests with unfocused messages. Using data on women's protests from 1961–1995, we confirm past findings on the importance of signal strength and find support for our new argument about the importance of signal clarity.

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