Testing Zaller’s Reception and Acceptance Model in an Intense Election Campaign
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The paper provides a test of Zaller’s reception and acceptance model. The theory describes conditions under which a political message is received, and, if received, accepted or rejected. The study deals with the 1988 Canadian election that was fiercely fought over one central issue, the Free Trade Accord with the United States. We use the 1988 Canadian Election Study campaign rolling cross-section survey, and we test Zaller’s propositions about who is most likely to receive and then accept party messages. Our findings provide little support for the model. We suggest that when an issue is hotly debated in an election campaign voters who receive party messages are able to connect these messages to their values and predispositions whatever their level of political awareness.