, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 27-56

Creating Constituencies: Presidential Campaigns, the Scope of Conflict, and Selective Mobilization

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Abstract

We investigate how material and symbolic campaign appeals may motivate segments of the electorate to be more engaged with the unfolding presidential campaign; this engagement is a first step toward bringing these populations into an electoral coalition. We pair two massive new data collections—the National Annenberg Election Study capturing public opinion across an entire campaign and The Wisconsin Advertising Project recording and cataloging the political commercials aired by campaigns—to examine how the candidates’ choice of issues affects who gets into the game. We find evidence that appeals to symbolic interests are more likely than appeals to material interest to selectively engage targeted groups.