The Timeline of Presidential Elections: How Campaigns Do by Robert S. Erikson, Christopher Wlezien

By Robert S. Erikson, Christopher Wlezien

In presidential elections, do citizens forged their ballots for the applicants whose platform and positions top fit their very own? Or is the race for president of the U.S. come down principally to who runs the best crusade? It’s a question those that learn elections were contemplating for years without transparent solution. In The Timeline of Presidential Elections, Robert S. Erikson and Christopher Wlezien demonstrate for the 1st time how either components come into play.
Erikson and Wlezien have accumulated info from with regards to thousand nationwide polls masking each presidential election from 1952 to 2008, permitting them to see how results take form over the process an election yr. Polls from the start of the yr, they exhibit, have nearly no predictive energy. by means of mid-April, whilst the applicants were pointed out and coupled in pollsters’ trial heats, personal tastes have come into focus—and anticipated the winner in 11 of the fifteen elections. yet an analogous strategy of forming favorites occurs within the final six months, within which citizens’ intentions swap in basic terms steadily, with specific events—including presidential debates—rarely leading to dramatic change.
Ultimately, Erikson and Wlezien convey that it truly is via campaigns that electorate are made conscious of—or no longer made conscious of—fundamental elements like applicants’ coverage positions that ensure which price tag gets their votes. In different phrases, basics subject, yet merely as a result of campaigns. well timed and compelling, this publication will strength us to reconsider our assumptions approximately presidential elections.

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Extra resources for The Timeline of Presidential Elections: How Campaigns Do (and Do Not) Matter

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Such a view would be wrong. , Berelson, Lazarsfeld, and McPhee 1954) discovered, voters tend to hold stable candidate preferences over the course of presidential campaigns. In large part, these preferences are the result of people’s stable partisan predispositions. For many American voters, identifying as a Republican or a Democrat (or perhaps a conservative or a liberal) anchors their beliefs so that their candidate choice becomes a long-standing decision that is diffi-cult to disturb. Those without firm political preferences naturally tend to be those with the least interest in politics.

Research on US presidential elections shows that big campaign events, such as the parties’ nominating conventions, effectively “correct” preferences, bringing them in line with the fundamentals (Holbrook 1996). Campaigns evidently help voters focus on and learn (or relearn) the positions of the parties, the candidates, and government performance. Moreover, as the campaign unfolds, voters increase their political attention. 5 There are further complexities, of course. To begin with, consider that election outcomes do not always play out as the fundamentals would have it.

5 Clearly we don’t want to count the same data twice, so we use only the data for the universe that seemingly best approximates the actual voting electorate. Where a survey house reports poll results for both an adult sample and a registered voter sample, we use data from the latter. 6 Third, especially in recent years, survey organizations often report results for overlapping polling periods. This is understandable and is as we would expect where a survey house operates a tracking poll and reports three-day moving averages.

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