Character Weakness, Partisan Bias, and Presidential Evaluation: Modifications and Extensions
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In a recent article Goren (American Journal of Political Science, 46, 627–641, 2002) draws upon theories of negativity bias, partisan bias, and motivated reasoning to posit that the more strongly people identify with the opposition party of a presidential candidate, the more heavily they will rely on character weakness impressions to construct global candidate evaluations. This paper modifies the theoretical framework by positing that (1) partisans will judge opposition nominees most critically on the traits owned by the former’s party and (2) partisan bias promotes negativity bias in the evaluation of incumbent presidents seeking reelection and incumbent vice presidents seeking the presidency. Analysis of data from the 2000 and 2004 NES surveys, along with a reconsideration of the results from the 1984 to 1996 period covered in the original piece, yields strong empirical support for these expectations.
KeywordsParty identification Presidential character Candidate evaluation Negativity bias Trait ownership Motivated reasoning
I would like to thank the three anonymous reviewers and the journal editors for their comments and suggestions on earlier versions of this article.
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