, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 71-97

Issue Convergence in Presidential Campaigns

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Abstract

This effort seeks to expand our understanding of the supply-side of the campaign process by investigating how candidate competition for agenda control affects occurrences of issue convergence (the discussion of the same issues by competing candidates) in campaigns for the presidency. More specifically, I integrate hypotheses suggested by extant literature into a framework that captures the factors that motivate presidential candidates’ selection of issues and the factors that affect their decisions to address issues also discussed by their opponents. These hypotheses are tested with duration analysis and data gathered from all available campaign advertisements produced by candidates competing in the 1976 through 1996 presidential elections. The results indicate that occurrences of issue convergences are quite frequent in presidential campaigns and that candidates’ decisions to address the same issues are affected by an issue’s saliency and partisan ownership, as well by changes in the campaign environment.