Original Paper

Political Behavior

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 433-454

First online:

Framing Labels and Immigration Policy Attitudes in the Iowa Caucuses: “Trying to Out-Tancredo Tancredo”

  • Benjamin R. KnollAffiliated withDepartment of Government, Centre College Email author 
  • , David P. RedlawskAffiliated withEagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University
  • , Howard SanbornAffiliated withDepartment of International Studies, Virginia Military Institute

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We use an experiment built into a series of surveys of Iowa voters during the 2008 Iowa Caucus campaign to test the effect of differing group framing labels on immigration policy preferences. We find that certain framing labels matter, but only among Republican partisans for whom the immigration issue is important. We also find that issue importance produces more conservative policy preferences for Democrats as well as Republicans. We examine and discuss these results as well as their implications for the immigration debate, the interaction between issue salience and policy preferences, and the theory of political framing in general.


Immigration attitudes Framing labels Ethnic cues Iowa Caucuses