I Knew it All Along! Evaluating Time-of-Decision Measures in the 2008 U.S. Presidential Campaign
- 463 Downloads
This paper evaluates the two most common methods of measuring voter time-of-decision—the recall method and the panel method—and asks whether the two methods are consistent with each other. Using data from the National Annenberg Election Survey collected during the 2008 U.S. presidential election, the findings suggest that these two methods measure different concepts, and thus cannot be used interchangeably. Furthermore, discrepancies between the two methods suggest that the accepted model of early, campaign, and late decision-making should be adjusted to account for a fourth group of voters that never changes their vote intention, but does not truly commit to that intention until later in the campaign. The concept of uncommitted early deciders is offered to describe this group, created by combining the two methods.
KeywordsElections Campaigns Voting behavior Methodology Public opinion Survey
The authors would like to thank Diana Mutz, Richard Johnston, and Michael Delli Carpini for their support and comments throughout this project. Also, gratitude is extended to the many colleagues who have provided advice on this article.
- American National Election Studies. (2010). The ANES guide to public opinion and electoral behavior. Accessed 15 April 2009 from http://www.electionstudies.org/nesguide/toptable/tab9a_3.htm
- Berelson, B., Lazarsfeld, P. F., & McPhee, W. N. (1954). Voting: A study of opinion formation in a presidential campaign. Chicago: University of Chicago.Google Scholar
- Callegaro, M. (2008). Social desirability. In P. J. Lavrakas (Ed.), Encyclopedia of survey research methods (pp. 825–826). Newbury Park: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
- Campbell, A., Converse, P. E., Miller, W. E., & Stokes, D. E. (1960). The American voter. New York: John Wiley.Google Scholar
- Chaffee, S. H., & Rimal, R. N. (1996). Time of vote decision and openness to persuasion. In D. Mutz, P. M. Sniderman, & R. A. Brody (Eds.), Political persuasion and attitude change (pp. 267–291). Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
- Chang, L., & Krosnick, J. A. (2002). RDD telephone vs. internet survey methodology for studying American presidential elections: Comparing sample representativeness and response quality. Paper presented at the 2002 American Political Science Association Annual Meeting and at Westat.Google Scholar
- Dalton, R. J. (2000). The decline of party identifications. In R. J. Dalton & M. P. Wattenberg (Eds.), Parties without partisans: Political change in advanced industrial democracies (pp. 19–36). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Dalton, R. J., & Wattenberg, M. P. (2000). Parties without partisans: Political change in advanced industrial democracies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Hillygus, D. S., & Shields, T. G. (2008). The persuadable voter: Wedge issues in presidential campaigns. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Jamieson, K. H., & Cappella, J. N. (2008). Echo chamber: Rush Limbaugh and the conservative media establishment. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Krosnick, J. A., & Chang, L. (2001). A comparison of the random digit dialing telephone survey methodology with internet survey methodology as implemented by Knowledge Networks and Harris Interactive. Paper presented at the 2001 annual meeting of the American Association of Public Opinion Research, Montreal, Canada.Google Scholar
- Lazarsfeld, P. F., Berelson, B., & Gaudet, H. (1944). The people’s choice. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
- Mendelsohn, H., & O’Keefe, G. (1976). The people choose a president: Influences on voter decision making. New York: Praeger.Google Scholar
- Murray, S. (2008, Nov 5). 2008 could mark highest voter turnout rate since 1968. The Wall Street Journal Online. http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2008/11/05/2008-could-mark-highest-voter-turnout-rate-since-1968/. Accessed 15 April 2009.
- Nie, N. H., Virba, S., & Petrocik, J. R. (1976). The changing American voter. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Norris, P., Curtice, J., Sanders, D., Scammell, M., & Semetko, H. A. (1999). On message: Communicating the campaign. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Pew Research Center for the People and the Press (2008a, July 10). McCain’s enthusiasm gap, Obama’s unity gap: Likely rise in voter turnout bodes well for democrats. http://people-press.org/reports/pdf/436.pdf. Accessed 15 April 2009.
- Pew Research Center for the People and the Press (2008b, Nov 13). High marks for the campaign, a high bar for Obama republicans want more conservative direction for GOP. http://people-press.org/report/471/high-bar-for-obama. Accessed 15 April 2009.
- Pool, I. (1963). The effect of communication on voting behavior. In W. Schramm (Ed.), The science of human communication (pp. 23–64). New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
- Prior, M. (2007). Post broadcast democracy: How media choice increases inequality in political involvement and polarizes elections. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Sunstein, C. (2002). Republic.com. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Westen, D. (2007). The political brain: The role of emotion in deciding the fate of the nation. New York: Public Affairs.Google Scholar
- Zaller, J. (2004). Floating voters in U.S. presidential election, 1948–2000. In P. M. Sniderman & W. E. Saris (Eds.), Studies in public opinion (pp. 166–212). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar