Leaders' Personalities and the Outcomes of Democratic Elections

By Anthony King | Go to book overview

considerable energy and panache, so the hope was that, on the general logic of personality perception, his appeal would transcend party. The Alliance did pull a larger share than Reform had, even as the Conservative share fell. But the Alliance gamble was also seen to fail, as the new party's seat gains were not commensurate with its vote gains. Alliance gains and Tory losses occurred in different provinces. The Alliance mainly consolidated its Western base, while the Conservatives retreated from Quebec, Jean Charest's province. In short, the dynamics have the wrong geography to be attributable to personality. Instead they carry implications about policy and sectional appeal. There does seem to be some suggestion that the stalling of the Reform advance was attributable to the Liberals' success in imposing a negative definition on Stockwell Day. But that definition seems to have been as much about policy, about Day's social conservatism in particular, as about his personality. 58


Appendix

Personality Traits

The basic form of the leader trait battery is:

Now, we'd like to know about your impressions of the party leaders. I am going to read a list of words or phrases people use to describe political figures. After each one, I would like you to tell me how much the word or phrase fits your impressions . . . How much would you say [word or phrase] fits your impression of [leader]: a great deal, somewhat, a little, or not at all?

The table shows the traits that were investigated in each year. Each item was rescaled to the 0,1 range with positive values indicating greater desirability. The index is the simple sum of the item scores for the dimension, with the index value also rescaled to the 0,1 range.

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