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More Important, but for What Exactly? The Insignificant Role of Subjective Issue Importance in Vote Decisions

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  • Thomas J. Leeper, London School of Economics and Political Science, Storbritannien
  • Joshua Robison
The nature of democratic governance is intimately connected with how citizens respond to candidate position taking. But when will a generally uninformed public base its vote choices on candidate positions? Since Converse scholars have argued that citizens should place greater weight on candidate positions on issues they consider personally important. However, this claim has received mixed empirical support. We revisit this question with compelling new evidence. First, we expand the limited temporal focus of existing work in our first study where we analyze all available ANES data on importance and issue voting between 1980 and 2008. We then overcome endogeneity concerns through a nationally representative conjoint experiment in which we randomize two candidate’s positions on five issues. Results from both studies demonstrate that there is scant evidence that subjective issue importance consistently moderates the relationship between candidate positions and vote choices. We discuss the implications of these results for “issue public” theories of political engagement, for research on voting behavior, and for political representation.
TidsskriftPolitical Behavior
Sider (fra-til)239-259
Antal sider21
StatusUdgivet - mar. 2020

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