Do Political Campaigns Matter? Campaign Effects in Elections and Referendums

By David M. Farrell; Rudiger Schmitt-Beck | Go to book overview
Save to active project

5

Priming and campaign context

Evidence from recent Canadian elections

Elisabeth Gidengil, André Blais, Neil Nevitte and Richard Nadeau

The most obvious place to look for the effects of election campaigns is in the realm of persuasion. After all, this is what election campaigns are about: the strategic efforts of parties and candidates to gain votes by persuading as many voters as possible to vote for their party's candidates. We typically think of persuasion as getting voters to change their opinions of the parties, the leaders or the issues of the day, but this is too narrow a conception. In this chapter we focus on a more subtle but none the less important form of persuasion: getting voters to change the bases on which they decide their vote.

This is precisely what motivates the parties' struggle to control the election agenda. Parties seek to emphasize considerations that will help them-be it a popular leader or an issue on which they possess a recognized expertise-and to downplay those that will hurt (Budge and Farlie 1983; Petrocik 1996; Nadeau et al. 2000a). From the parties' perspective, then, election campaigns can be conceptualized as a competition for control of the agenda. Political parties, however, are not the only players in this agenda-setting competition. The media are also potentially critical players (Semetko 1996; Norris et al. 1999). Political parties rely on the media for communicating their core messages to voters, but the media do not serve simply as a neutral transmission belt between the parties and the voters. In a very literal sense, they mediate the campaign communication flows, highlighting some messages and downplaying others. This is the essence of the media's power to prime (Iyengar and Kinder 1987).

Priming can be thought of as 'an extension of agenda-setting' (Ansolabe-here et al. 1991:127; Semetko 1996:275). Indeed, Miller and Krosnick (2000) have argued that priming occurs via agenda setting. 1 Agenda setting refers to the media's power to influence the public agenda (McCombs and Shaw 1972). In the context of elections, the basic proposition is that the more attention the media pay to an issue, the greater will be its perceived electoral importance. Priming occurs when extensive media coverage leads voters to attach more importance to a given consideration in deciding their vote. Priming can lead people to change their minds, not because they have

-76-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Do Political Campaigns Matter? Campaign Effects in Elections and Referendums
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 215

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?