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Agenda setting and political partisanship in an election campaign: Reinforcing and undermining partisan voting intentions
Unformatted Document Text:  18 issue of defense as personally important pre-election, β = .24, t(176) = 4.35, p = .000. Further, although there was no evidence of a two-way interaction involving the issue of immigration, F(2,174) < 1, there was a significant two-way interaction between political partisanship and importance of the issue of defense, R 2 change = .02, F(2,174) = 3.75, p = .025, that qualified the main effect of the importance of the issue of defense. The final model including this interaction term explained 56% of the variance in confidence in John Howard, F(6,174) = 37.34, p = .000. As can be seen in Figure 6, the positive association between issue importance and confidence in John Howard was most pronounced for Labor partisans, b = .50, t(174) = 4.74, p = .000, somewhat less pronounced for neutral voters, b = .22, t(174) = 2.13, p = .035, and non- significant for Liberal partisans, b = .07, t(174) = .61, ns. ____________________ Figure 6 here ____________________ Discussion As expected, results of this study provided evidence of strong agreement across the political spectrum about the issues that provided the agenda for the 2001 Australian federal election. Irrespective of partisanship, voters agreed that the two issues of defense and immigration had dominated stories in the media in the lead-up to the election and were highly important to the public agenda pre-election. Put simply, voters across the board identified defense and immigration as the key issues that Australians were thinking about and talking about two-weeks out from the poll. Results also provided evidence for a consensual or shared belief that public opinion was with the conservative Government on these issues. Pre-election, voters of all political backgrounds believed that there was more public support for the Government than for the Opposition response to these issues, and hence that the Coalition was more likely to be returned on election day. Relative to neutral voters, these beliefs were accentuated among Liberal partisans and attenuated among Labor partisans, patterns that emphasized the confidence of those whose side “owned” the issues and the more circumspect response of those whose side did not. Nonetheless, even Labor partisans believed that the conservative Government had the support of most Australians going into the election. Results post-election also indicated that voters across the political spectrum perceived that the issues of defense and immigration had been highly important to most Australians when

Authors: Duck, Julie., Morton, Thomas. and Fortey, Kate.
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18
issue of defense as personally important pre-election,
β
= .24, t(176) = 4.35, p = .000. Further,
although there was no evidence of a two-way interaction involving the issue of immigration,
F(2,174) < 1, there was a significant two-way interaction between political partisanship and
importance of the issue of defense, R
2
change = .02, F(2,174) = 3.75, p = .025, that qualified the
main effect of the importance of the issue of defense. The final model including this interaction
term explained 56% of the variance in confidence in John Howard, F(6,174) = 37.34, p = .000.
As can be seen in Figure 6, the positive association between issue importance and confidence in
John Howard was most pronounced for Labor partisans, b = .50, t(174) = 4.74, p = .000,
somewhat less pronounced for neutral voters, b = .22, t(174) = 2.13, p = .035, and non-
significant for Liberal partisans, b = .07, t(174) = .61, ns.
____________________
Figure 6 here
____________________
Discussion
As expected, results of this study provided evidence of strong agreement across the
political spectrum about the issues that provided the agenda for the 2001 Australian federal
election. Irrespective of partisanship, voters agreed that the two issues of defense and
immigration had dominated stories in the media in the lead-up to the election and were highly
important to the public agenda pre-election. Put simply, voters across the board identified
defense and immigration as the key issues that Australians were thinking about and talking
about two-weeks out from the poll. Results also provided evidence for a consensual or shared
belief that public opinion was with the conservative Government on these issues. Pre-election,
voters of all political backgrounds believed that there was more public support for the
Government than for the Opposition response to these issues, and hence that the Coalition was
more likely to be returned on election day. Relative to neutral voters, these beliefs were
accentuated among Liberal partisans and attenuated among Labor partisans, patterns that
emphasized the confidence of those whose side “owned” the issues and the more circumspect
response of those whose side did not. Nonetheless, even Labor partisans believed that the
conservative Government had the support of most Australians going into the election.
Results post-election also indicated that voters across the political spectrum perceived
that the issues of defense and immigration had been highly important to most Australians when


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