SevenELECTIONS ARE THE PRIMARY mechanism by which citizens in a democracy express their wants and desires to their elected officials, and it is
through political campaigns that this interaction is managed. Campaigns oblige politicians to define their policy priorities, inform the electorate of the policy alternatives offered by opposing candidates, and
provide a forum for policy debate, discussion, and change. We have
argued that information about the voters shapes campaign messages
and candidate strategies. And information from the campaign influences voter decision making. The dynamics we observe in a presidential
campaign, in other words, reflect a reciprocal flow of information and
influence between voters and candidates, with this relationship governed by the amount, type, and quality of information each has about
the other. This broad perspective of presidential campaigns provides
insights into why candidates emphasize some issues instead of others,
why some voters are more likely than others to be responsive to those
appeals, and ultimately, why we observe the dynamics that we do.Building on a diverse body of research in political psychology, political communication, voting behavior, and campaign strategy, we have
offered three key theoretical propositions in this book:
Consequences for Democratic Governance
|1. ||Individual-level responsiveness to presidential campaigns depends on
the strength and consistency of voters' predispositions and on the issue
context of the campaign dialogue. Voters facing competing considerations, especially between policy preferences and party identification, are
more likely than other voters to rely on campaign information when making up their minds.|
|2. ||In an attempt to build a winning coalition between their base supporters
and persuadable voters, candidates, motivated by electoral concerns, will
target cross-pressured partisans and Independents. The candidates will
highlight issues on which these voters disagree with the position taken
by the opposing party candidate. In other words, candidates deliberately
use wedge issues as part of an electoral strategy.|
|3. ||New information and communication technologies have enabled candidates to microtarget different policy messages to different voters, thereby
increasing the prevalence and precision of wedge campaign messages.|
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: The Persuadable Voter: Wedge Issues in Presidential Campaigns.
Contributors: D. Sunshine Hillygus - Author, Todd G. Shields - Author.
Publisher: Princeton University Press.
Place of publication: Princeton, NJ.
Publication year: 2008.
Page number: 183.
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