What is Issue Ownership and How Should We Measure It?
Recently, the concept of issue ownership has attracted increasing attention by students of electoral behaviour as well as party competition. However, both the definition and measurement of issue ownership—often drawn from Petrocik’s seminal 1996-article—is unclear. This constitutes a serious drawback to the further development and understanding of issue ownership itself and its purported effects. The paper addresses these problems by, first, establishing a definition of issue ownership at the individual level. On this basis, the standard ‘which party is best at handling issue X’ measure of issue ownership is assessed. The analyses using experiments embedded in a nationally representative panel survey indicate that the measure lacks validity and is partially redundant. Consequently, its replacement with a better performing alternative is recommended.
KeywordsIssue ownership Public opinion Political parties Question wording
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