What Are the Sources of Political Parties’ Issue Ownership? Testing Four Explanations at the Individual Level
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- Stubager, R. & Slothuus, R. Polit Behav (2013) 35: 567. doi:10.1007/s11109-012-9204-2
Political parties’ issue ownership—their perceived competence in handling issues and problems—is a major ingredient explaining voting behavior. Yet, our understanding of the sources of issue ownership is limited. This study is the first to bring together and evaluate four different explanations of voters’ perceptions of parties’ issue ownership: partisanship, attitudes, perceived real-world developments, and constituency-based ownership. Using novel measures implemented in a national survey, we show that all four sources exert independent, if varying, influences on voters’ issue ownership perceptions. Even though voters’ partisanship tends to dominate issue ownership perceptions, attitudes and performance evaluations also matter. Moreover, the hitherto mostly neglected constituency based component of ownership has a substantial, independent influence on ownership perceptions. These findings indicate that issue ownership is more than merely an expression of partisanship and attitudes.