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Understanding Public Opinion Toward Presidential Candidate Spouses

  • Laurel Elder
  • Brian Frederick
  • Barbara Burrell
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter develops the study’s key theoretical frameworks guiding the analysis of public perceptions toward candidate spouses—new traditionalism, incumbency advantage, symbolic representation, polarization, and the degree to which attitudes toward candidate spouses are shaped by as well as independent from attitudes toward the candidates themselves—and considers these frameworks in the context of public opinion data on candidate spouses over the past 30 years. Using over-time data, showing favorable ratings of presidential candidate spouses from 1988 to 2016 and a list of all the questions pollsters have asked about candidate spouses, as well as original survey data collected specifically for this study, Chap. 2 investigates how Americans’ preference for traditional candidate spouses has been challenged or reinforced by presidential candidate spouses, and, importantly, how the public has responded. This chapter also considers how traditional expectations for candidate spouses have evolved and how modern spouses are expected to be quite active within the traditional frame, which this book labels the new traditionalism. Longitudinal data are also used to explore the conditional effect of incumbency advantage and the degree to which candidate spouses can rise above party polarization and maintain an image in the public’s mind independent of that of their spouses.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laurel Elder
    • 1
  • Brian Frederick
    • 2
  • Barbara Burrell
    • 3
  1. 1.Political ScienceHartwick CollegeOneontaUSA
  2. 2.Political ScienceBridgewater State UniversityBridgewaterUSA
  3. 3.Political ScienceNorthern Illinois UniversityDekalbUSA

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