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Party Identification and Campaign Dynamics.docx

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McGill University
Political Science
POLI 222
Christa Scholtz

"Party Identification and Campaign Dynamics" (Richard Johnston) Introduction • considers the role of PID in 1988 general election campaign • Canadian party commitment similar to those of US ppl • 1988 was a television election ◦ daily grind of leaders' tours was contrived to manipulate news programming ◦ nationally televised debates were pivotal ◦ debate aftermath brought advertising strategy and counterstrategy • Canadians' long-term party commitments can survive the vicissitudes of a hard-fought campaign, as is seen in the US • establish ways in which long-term identifications can shape and constrain campaign dynamics • So, what does the campaign bring that is new? The Stakes • 1948 New Deal US election • do campaigns just bring the system back to its roots naturally? ◦ may not be important in their own right ◦ might just create enough noise to reawaken voters to their abiding interests • hollow campaigns bring vote intentions back in line with the longstanding distribution of identifications • possibility that the basic alignment of votes that emerges over the campaign is controlled by more than just PID ◦ factors of a fairly short-run nature have a powerful effect on elections ▪ BUT the effect lies outside the campaigns • pre campaign values on the basic variables are better predictors of the results than most of the info gathered in the campaign ◦ campaign events are distractions, essentially irrelevant to the result • RIVAL VIEW: emphasizes voter psychology ◦ considers how candidates are perceived ◦ how issues are framed (Iyengar and Kinder) are open to the possibility of real campaign dynamics ▪ these small effects might be critical at the margin ◦ BUT an emphasis on short-term contingencies lacks predictive power of accounts employing a handful of predetermining factors with stable coefficients of effect ▪ findings mostly come from primary elections, in which PID is irrelevant • if PID is not stable, the potential for campaign effects is enormous ◦ the larger the proportion of nonpartisans, the more potential there is for across-the-board flux • persuasion: on issues or on perceptions • priming is more likely ◦ think 1948, the renewed emphasis on New Deal issues so the party enjoyed a strategic advantage The Study • 1988 Canadian Election Study (CES) ◦ first rolling cross section survey during general election The Campaign • widespread doubts in the electorate about each major party, about their leaders, and about the central policy issue (Free Trade Agreement) • FTA was difficult to understand and thus was susceptible to symbolically charged rhetoric • perceptions of the two old parties' leaders ◦ Conservative Brian Mulroney ▪ whether he should be trusted to negotiate FTA ◦ Liberal John Turner ▪ doubts about his executive capacity, threatening his credibility as a critic of FTA ◦ each surged once and declined once suddenly • Conservatives ◦ started out strong wi
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