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Issue Salience, Issue Ownership and Issue-based Vote Choice: Evidence from Canada
Unformatted Document Text:  Issue Salience, Issue Ownership and Issue-Based Vote Choice: Evidence from Canada ABSTRACT According to the issue ownership theory of voting, voters identify the political party that they feel is the most competent, or the most credible, proponent of a particular issue and cast their ballots for the party that owns that particular issue. Yet, the actual micro-level mechanism of such behavior has seldom been examined in the literature. We assess this question and, in the process, offer a correction to the original model of issue ownership. We argue that while party ownership of an issue is important to individual vote choice, its effect is mediated by the perceived salience of the issue in question. In other words, issue ownership should only affect the voting decision of those individuals who think that the issue is important. The conditional effect of issue salience on ownership-based voting is demonstrated through analyses of the individual-level determinants of vote choice in the 1997 Canadian federal election. The results strongly suggest that salience should be more explicitly integrated into the formulation of the theory and in its empirical testing because it constitutes a key element in the micro-level mechanism of issue ownership voting.

Authors: Bélanger, Éric. and Meguid, Bonnie.
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Issue Salience, Issue Ownership and Issue-Based Vote Choice:
Evidence from Canada



ABSTRACT
According to the issue ownership theory of voting, voters identify the political party that they
feel is the most competent, or the most credible, proponent of a particular issue and cast their
ballots for the party that owns that particular issue. Yet, the actual micro-level mechanism of
such behavior has seldom been examined in the literature. We assess this question and, in the
process, offer a correction to the original model of issue ownership. We argue that while party
ownership of an issue is important to individual vote choice, its effect is mediated by the
perceived salience of the issue in question. In other words, issue ownership should only affect
the voting decision of those individuals who think that the issue is important. The conditional
effect of issue salience on ownership-based voting is demonstrated through analyses of the
individual-level determinants of vote choice in the 1997 Canadian federal election. The results
strongly suggest that salience should be more explicitly integrated into the formulation of the
theory and in its empirical testing because it constitutes a key element in the micro-level
mechanism of issue ownership voting.


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