Political Behavior

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 433–454 | Cite as

Framing Labels and Immigration Policy Attitudes in the Iowa Caucuses: “Trying to Out-Tancredo Tancredo”

  • Benjamin R. Knoll
  • David P. Redlawsk
  • Howard Sanborn
Original Paper


We use an experiment built into a series of surveys of Iowa voters during the 2008 Iowa Caucus campaign to test the effect of differing group framing labels on immigration policy preferences. We find that certain framing labels matter, but only among Republican partisans for whom the immigration issue is important. We also find that issue importance produces more conservative policy preferences for Democrats as well as Republicans. We examine and discuss these results as well as their implications for the immigration debate, the interaction between issue salience and policy preferences, and the theory of political framing in general.


Immigration attitudes Framing labels Ethnic cues Iowa Caucuses 


  1. Alvarez, R. M., & Butterfield, T. L. (2000). The resurgence of nativism in California? The case of Proposition 187 and illegal immigration. Social Science Quarterly, 81, 167–179.Google Scholar
  2. Augoustinos, M., & Quinn, C. J. (2003). Social categorization and attitudinal evaluations: illegal immigrants, refugees, or asylum seekers? New Review of Social Psychology, 2, 29–37.Google Scholar
  3. Barabas, J., & Jerit, J. (2010). Are survey experiments externally valid? American Political Science Review, 104, 226–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barreto, M. A., Redlawsk, D. P., Tolbert, C. J. (2009). Measuring respondent agreement/disagreement with framing experiments: race, religion and voting against Barack Obama in 2008. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Toronto, Canada, September 2009. Google Scholar
  5. Blumer, H. (1958). Race prejudice as a sense of group position. Pacific Sociological Review, 1, 3–7.Google Scholar
  6. Brader, T., Valentino, N. A., & Suhay, E. (2008). What triggers public opposition to immigration? Anxiety, group cues, and immigration threat. American Journal of Political Science, 52, 959–978.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brewer, P. R. (2001). Value words and lizard brains: Do citizens deliberate about appeals to their core values? Political Psychology, 22, 45–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Campbell, A., Converse, P. E., Miller, W. E., & Stokes, D. E. (1960). The American voter. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  9. Chong, D., & Druckman, J. N. (2007a). A theory of framing and opinion formation in competitive elite environments. Journal of Communication, 57, 99–111.Google Scholar
  10. Chong, D., & Druckman, J. N. (2007b). Framing theory. Annual Review of Political Science, 10, 103–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Citrin, J., Green, D. P., Muste, C., & Wong, C. (1997). Public opinion toward immigration reform: The role of economic motivations. Journal of Politics, 59, 858–881.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Craig, S. C., Martinez, M. D., & Kane, J. G. (2005). Core values, value conflict, and citizens’ ambivalence about gay rights. Political Research Quarterly, 58, 5–17.Google Scholar
  13. Druckman, J. N. (2001). The implications of framing effects for citizen competence. Political Behavior, 23, 225–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Druckman, J. N. (2004). Political preference formation: competition, deliberation, and the (ir)relevance of framing effects. American Political Science Review, 98, 671–686.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gibson, J. L. (1998). A sober second thought: an experiment in persuading Russians to tolerate. American Journal of Political Science, 42, 819–850.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Giles, M. W., & Buckner, M. A. (1993). David Duke and black threat: an old hypothesis revisited. Journal of Politics, 55, 702–713.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Henry, P. J., & Sears, D. O. (2002). The symbolic racism 2000 scale. Political Psychology, 23, 253–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hopkins, D. J. (2009). The diversity discount: When increasing ethnic and racial diversity prevents tax increases. Journal of Politics, 71, 160–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hughes, M., & Tuch, S. A. (2003). Gender differences in whites’ racial attitudes: are women’s attitudes really more favorable? Social Psychology Quarterly, 66, 384–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Iyengar, S., & Kinder, D. R. (1987). News that matters: Television and American opinion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  21. Kahn, C. (2007). Immigration among Iowa voters’ top concerns. November 15. National Public Radio: All Things Considered. (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16332979).
  22. Kiely, K. (2007). Public favors giving illegal immigrants a break. USA Today. April 19, 2007.Google Scholar
  23. Kinder, D. R., & Sanders, L. M. (1996). Divided by color: Racial politics and democratic ideals. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Knoll, B. R. (2009). And who is my neighbor? Religion and immigration policy attitudes. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 48, 313–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lakoff, G. (2004). Don’t think of an elephant: Know your values and frame the debate: The essential guide for progressives. Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing.Google Scholar
  26. Martin, M. (2006). Political glossary for the midterm elections talk of the nation: National Public Radio. September 27. (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6153679).
  27. McAdams, E. S., Sokhey, A. E., & Weisberg, H. F. (2008). Group labels, group affect and immigration: What’s in a name? Paper prepared for delivery at the annual meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, April 3–5, 2008, Chicago, Illinois.Google Scholar
  28. Nelson, T. E., Clawson, R. A., & Oxley, Z. M. (1997). Media framing of a civil liberties conflict and its effect on tolerance. American Political Science Review, 91, 567–583.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Nelson, T. E., & Oxley, Z. M. (1999). Issue framing effects and belief importance and opinion. Journal of Politics, 61, 1040–1067.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Nieman, M., Johnson, M., & Bowler, S. (2006). Partisanship and views about immigration in southern California: Just how partisan is the issue of immigration? International Migration, 44, 35–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Oliver, J. E., & Wong, J. (2003). Intergroup prejudice in multiethnic settings. American Journal of Political Science, 47, 567–582.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Peffley, M., & Hurwitz, J. (2007). Persuasion and resistance: Race and the death penalty in America. American Journal of Political Science, 51, 996–1012.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Peffley, M., Knigge, P., & Hurwitz, J. (2001). A multiple values model of political tolerance. Political Research Quarterly, 54, 379–406.Google Scholar
  34. Redlawsk, D. P. (2002). Hot cognition or cool consideration? Testing the effects of motivated reasoning on political decision making. Journal of Politics, 64, 1021–1044.Google Scholar
  35. Redlawsk, D. P., Civettini, A. J. W., & Emmerson, K. (2010). The affective tipping point: do motivated reasoners ever “get it”? Political Psychology, 31, 563–593.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Sniderman, P. M., & Piazza, T. (1993). The scar of race. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Taber, C. S., & Lodge, M. (2006). Motivated skepticism in the evaluation of political beliefs. American Journal of Political Science, 50, 755–769.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (1986). The social identity theory of intergroup behavior. In S. Worchel & W. G. Austin (Eds.), Psychology of intergroup relations. Chicago: Nelson-Hall.Google Scholar
  39. Tolbert, C. J., & Grummel, J. (2003). White voter support for California’s Proposition 209: Revisiting the racial threat hypothesis. State Politics and Policy Quarterly, 3, 183–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Tolbert, C. J., Redlawsk, D. P., & Bowen, D. (2009). Reforming the presidential nomination process: rotating state primaries or a national primary? PS: Political Science and Politics, 42, 71–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Welch, S., Sigelman, L., Bledsoe, T., & Combs, M. (2001). Race and place: Race relations in an American city. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Wilson, T. C. (1996). Cohort and prejudice: Whites attitudes toward blacks, Hispanics, Jews, and Asians. Public Opinion Quarterly, 60, 253–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Zaller, J. (1992). The nature and origins of mass opinion. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benjamin R. Knoll
    • 1
  • David P. Redlawsk
    • 2
  • Howard Sanborn
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of GovernmentCentre CollegeDanvilleUSA
  2. 2.Eagleton Institute of PoliticsRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA
  3. 3.Department of International StudiesVirginia Military InstituteLexingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations