Political Behavior

, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 631–657 | Cite as

Issue Publics, Campaigns, and Political Knowledge

Original Paper

Abstract

Building on the growing body of research on campaign learning, this paper considers the way that learning about policy issues depends on the nature of the issue and its relevance for the individual citizen. Specifically, the analysis finds that seniors learned much more than non-seniors about candidate positions on an emerging Social Security issue that was heavily emphasized in the 2000 campaign, but not when the same issue was more familiar and largely ignored by the candidates and press in the 2004 campaign. Yet, even without additional learning or campaign emphasis, seniors still knew more than non-seniors in the later contest. These results suggest that once party positions become familiar to them, issue publics will hold their information advantage across future elections without dependence on further campaign emphasis.

Keywords

Issue public Knowledge gap Campaign learning Campaign effects 

Notes

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank D. Sunshine Hillygus for many helpful comments and for access to direct mail data for the 2004 campaign, Daron Shaw for providing access to media market data and for comments offered at a presentation of an earlier draft of this paper at the 2009 Midwest Political Science Association Annual Meeting, as well as Claudine Gay, Paul Peterson, and Stephen Ansolabehere for helpful comments. This research was supported in part by the National Science Foundation’s IGERT program, Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality and Social Policy at Harvard University (Grant No. 0333403).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of MississippiUniversityUSA

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