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Campaign Dynamics

The Race for Governor

Thomas M. Carsey

Publication Year: 2000

Campaign Dynamics: The Race for Governor explores the dynamic interaction between candidates and voters that takes place during campaigns. It finds that voters respond in a meaningful way to what candidates say and do during their campaigns. Candidates for state-wide and national offices spend millions of dollars and thousands of hours trying to convey their messages to voters. Do voters hear them and respond? More specifically, do the issues candidates stress on the campaign trail influence the choices voters make when casting their ballots? The evidence presented in this book suggests that the answer is a resounding yes. Campaign Dynamics examines more than one hundred gubernatorial elections from 1982 through 1994, beginning with case studies of the gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey in 1993. Combining interviews and observations with empirical analysis of public opinion polls, the case studies develop the basic understanding of how campaigns define the set of important issues in an election. Then the analysis is expanded to consider the abortion issue in thirty-four gubernatorial elections in 1990. Later chapters test these ideas in over one hundred gubernatorial elections, combining exit poll data on upwards of 100,000 voters from dozens of races with measures of campaign themes developed out of a content analysis of newspaper coverage. This book employs multiple methods and sources of data and represents one of the most comprehensive theoretical and empirical efforts to understand the role of campaigns in voting behavior ever undertaken. Campaign Dynamics will be of interest to those who study state politics, voting behavior and campaigns, and democratic theory. It should also guide students and scholars interested in performing empirical tests of formal models and those wishing to combine multiple methods in their research. Thomas M. Carsey is Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Illinois at Chicago.

Published by: University of Michigan Press

Contents

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pp. vii-

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

This book focuses on the interaction between voters and candidates that takes place during campaigns. In this work, I combine ideas from several different theoretical traditions to further the understanding of the electoral process. I show that the salience of factors that predict voting behavior in gubernatorial elections responds to what candidates do and say during their campaigns. ...

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Chapter 1. Electoral Politics: Background and Review

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pp. 1-7

Elections are the central component of democratic government. No institution plays a more important role in theoretical discussions and real-world manifestations of governments designed to provide representation for citizens. Quite deservedly, elections have been a major focal point for research in political science. However, gaps remain in the knowledge of how voters and candidates interact...

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Chapter 2. Campaigns and Candidates: What Should We Expect?

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pp. 8-23

More than anything else, an election campaign is a learning process for both candidates and voters. Voters receive information about the candidates from the media, neighbors and coworkers, and directly from the candidates themselves. Voters also learn about the electorate as a whole through the publication of public-opinion polls. Candidates gather information about potential supporters through polls, ...

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Chapter 3. A Spatial Model of Issue Salience in Voting Behavior

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pp. 24-39

In this chapter, I present a formal representation of the theory described in chapter 2.1 In chapter 2, I argued that candidates compete with each other to influence the relative salience to voters of various issues or cleavages by providing information. In doing so, candidates attempt to create what Riker (1990) calls heresthetic change in the issue space of the election. Voters are assumed to vote...

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Chapter 4. Data and Methods

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pp. 40-54

In this chapter, I describe the data and methods used to evaluate predictions about both candidates and voters generated by the theory presented in chapters 2 and 3. The analysis that follows consists of two case studies along with data spanning more than one hundred gubernatorial elections held from 1982 to 1994. I have argued that as a general strategy, candidates try to induce heresthetic...

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Chapter 5. Virginia’s 1993 Gubernatorial Campaign

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pp. 55-89

Campaigns are dynamic events that unfold over time. The themes candidates stress may shift and flow as the campaign unfolds, and all the while the electorate learns more about the candidates. Chapters 7, 8, and 9 will demonstrate that this process culminates on election day with voters responding to the dominant themes stressed by candidates during their campaigns. But first, this chapter and...

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Chapter 6. New Jersey’s 1993 Gubernatorial Campaign

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pp. 90-122

In 1993, New Jersey witnessed one of the more interesting gubernatorial elections in the United States in recent times. Democratic incumbent Jim Florio won his first term in 1989 by a near record-setting margin after two earlier attempts for the governor’s office failed. However, shortly after taking office, he pushed through an unpopular tax increase, leading most observers to conclude that his...

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Chapter 7. Abortion and the 1990 Gubernatorial Elections

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pp. 123-139

This and the next two chapters shift the focus of the analysis away from specific case studies toward a more general test of the theory of campaigns and voting behavior outlined in chapters 2 and 3. In so doing, attention also shifts from the dynamics of campaigns to the impact of campaign themes on election-day voting behavior. Each of these three chapters pools a set of election-day...

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Chapter 8. Presidential Approval in Gubernatorial Elections

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pp. 140-147

In chapter 1, I noted that there is some disagreement regarding the factors that predict voting behavior in gubernatorial elections. In particular, there remains debate regarding the influence of national politics on how voters cast their ballots for the governorship. While the disagreements often center on empirical issues (see the interchange between Carsey and Wright 1998 and Atkeson and...

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Chapter 9. Voter Response to Gubernatorial Campaigns, 1982–1992

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pp. 148-167

Chapters 7 and 8 demonstrated that voters in gubernatorial elections responded in 1990 to appeals made on the abortion issue and in 1994 to appeals based on evaluations of President Clinton. These two chapters provided support for the theory of electoral politics outlined in chapters 2 and 3 by showing that the salience of various demographic cleavages, as well as the salience of opinions on abortion and presidential evaluations, responded to what candidates said...

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Chapter 10. Conclusions

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pp. 168-176

I began this book by suggesting that political science needs a new way of thinking about electoral politics. The subsequent chapters developed and tested a theory of electoral politics that places the campaign itself more squarely at the center of the electoral process. I conclude in this chapter by suggesting more generally the advances made by this study, a broader set of implications suggested...

Appendix A. Models and Methods for the Case Studies

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pp. 177-179

Appendix B. Models and Methods for the Comparative State Analysis

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pp. 180-181

Appendix C. Complete Models Examining Votes for Prochoice Gubernatorial Candidates

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pp. 182-187

Appendix D. Complete Models Examining Votes for Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates

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pp. 188-191

Notes

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pp. 193-204

References

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pp. 205-213

Index

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pp. 215-217


E-ISBN-13: 9780472023189
E-ISBN-10: 0472023187
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472088294
Print-ISBN-10: 0472088297

Page Count: 232
Illustrations: 22 drawings, 31 tables
Publication Year: 2000