The impact of policy content and party label on policy agreement and candidate support. An analysis on the issue of the integration of immigrants
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There is an ongoing debate in the public opinion and voting behaviour literature on whether policy content or party cues determine voters’ opinions and electoral behaviour. This study focuses on the issue of the integration of immigrants, and assesses to what extent the policy content and a radical right party label relate to voters’ likelihood of agreeing with the policy and of voting for the candidate introducing the policy. The analysis, using experimental video data with hypothetical political candidates embedded in a representative Dutch survey (LISS) (N = 3249), reveals that the influence of the radical right label is limited. It only negatively affects the likelihood of supporting a candidate and agreeing with the policy among voters who do not support a mainstream right or radical right party. The content of the policy plays a major role. In particular, a radical right compared with mainstream right policy towards the integration of immigrants decreases the likelihood of agreeing with the policy and supporting the candidate presenting such a policy among non-radical right voters. Radical right voters are substantially more likely to agree with a restrictive migration policy and to support a candidate presenting such a policy than voters of all other parties.
KeywordsParty label Policy content Policy agreement Candidate support Migration policy Radical right
I would like to thank the Institute of Governmental Studies, the University of California, Berkeley for its hospitality while working on the paper; the Victoria University of Wellington for funding; and the MESS (Measurement and Experimentation in the Social Sciences) project for accepting my research proposal, helping with recording the videos, and providing the data. I am also grateful to Laura Stoker for the fruitful discussions and methodological help, and to Sebastiaan Bierema and Sam Crawley for their editorial help. A previous version of the paper has been presented at the Leuphana University of Lüneburg, the Institute of Political Science and Center for the Study of Democracy, and at the University of California, Berkeley, the Institute of Governmental Studies, Race, Ethnicity and Immigration Colloquium. I would like to thank all participants for their helpful comments and feedback. Finally, my study gained from the reviewers’ comments and suggestions.
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