Political Behavior

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 277–291 | Cite as

The electoral consequences of issue ambiguity: An examination of the presidential candidates' issue positions from 1968 to 1980

  • James E. Campbell


This study investigates the consequences of ambiguity in the issue positions of presidential candidates from 1968 to 1980. Two potential consequences are examined: a direct impact and a conditional impact on the vote. The findings indicate no significant direct effect on the vote. However, significant conditional effects were found. Compared to losing candidates, winning candidates were somewhat less likely to hold clear positions when issues were salient to the public and were somewhat more likely to hold ambiguous positions when public opinion was dispersed. They were especially more likely to be ambiguous when their positions substantially differed from the median public position on the issue.


Direct Effect Potential Consequence Public Opinion Direct Impact Public Position 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aldrich, John H. (1980).Before the Convention: Strategies and Choices in Presidential Nomination Campaigns. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  2. Brams, Steven J. (1978).The Presidential Election Game. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Campbell, James E. (1983). “Ambiguity in the Issue Positions of Presidential Candidates: A Causal Analysis.”American Journal of Political Science 27:284–293.Google Scholar
  4. Carmines, Edward G., and J. David Gopoian (1981). “Issue Coalitions, Issueless Campaigns: The Paradox of Rationality in American Presidential Elections.”Journal of Politics 43:1170–1189.Google Scholar
  5. Enelow, James, and Melvin J. Hinich (1981). “A New Approach to Voter Uncertainty in the Downsian Spatial Model.”American Journal of Political Science 25:483–493.Google Scholar
  6. Page, Benjamin I. (1976). “The Theory of Political Ambiguity.”American Political Science Review 70:742–752.Google Scholar
  7. Page, Benjamin I. (1978).Choices and Echoes in Presidential Elections. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  8. Shepsle, Kenneth A. (1972). “The Strategy of Ambiguity: Uncertainty and Electoral Competition.”American Political Science Review 66:555–568.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Agathon Press, Inc. 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • James E. Campbell
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political Science and Institute for Behavioral ResearchUniversity of GeorgiaUSA

Personalised recommendations