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Agenda setting and political partisanship in an election campaign: Reinforcing and undermining partisan voting intentions
Unformatted Document Text:  20 own (ingroup) candidates and parties over others (Duck et al., 1998). As expected, partisan biases were evident, although the politically-loaded nature of the election agenda was reflected in an accentuation of ingroup bias amongst Liberal voters and an attenuation of ingroup bias among Labor voters. Predictably, Liberal partisans emphasized their personal support for the Government (i.e., ingroup) response to the issues of immigration and defense, whereas Labor partisans expressed little personal support for the Government’s (outgroup’s) stand. At the same time, however, Labor partisans showed little enthusiasm for their own party’s response to the on-agenda issues, and especially to the issue of defense, suggesting that they felt a deal of dissatisfaction with both political parties. Similarly, although Labor partisans demonstrated a predictable preference for their own leader (Kim Beazley) over the Prime Minister (John Howard), Liberal partisans displayed much stronger ingroup bias. Clearly, the election agenda favored the conservative side, instilling confidence among Liberal partisans and producing more conflicted thoughts among Labor partisans––concerns that were further evidenced in the contemplation of a non-partisan vote. Set against Labor partisans’ conscious downplaying of the personal importance of the agenda issues, pre- and post-election, evidence of a causal association between pre-election issue importance and post-election reports of voting behaviour was particularly persuasive. Labor partisans not only exhibited a less partisan vote than their Liberal counterparts on election day, but also showed a deal of personal reservation and concern about their vote to the extent that they had accepted the public agenda issues as personally important pre-election. Post- election, Labor partisans reported having thought more about their voting decision and having reconsidered their voting decision more to the extent that they had personally accepted the immigration agenda. Moreover, personal importance of the issue of immigration pre-election, worked in a directly opposite way for Liberal partisans, promoting less reconsideration (or more consolidation) of partisan voting intention. Similarly, the personal importance of defense pre- election also worked to make Labor partisans less certain and Liberal partisans more certain about their voting decision post-election, findings congruent with the politically-loaded nature of the issue. These patterns across three separate measures of political decision-making demonstrated not only that the agenda was consequential in terms of individual political behavior, but also that the consequences differed predictably as a function of partisanship. In this sense, partisan identity served to contrast the political thinking of Liberal and Labor

Authors: Duck, Julie., Morton, Thomas. and Fortey, Kate.
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own (ingroup) candidates and parties over others (Duck et al., 1998). As expected, partisan
biases were evident, although the politically-loaded nature of the election agenda was reflected
in an accentuation of ingroup bias amongst Liberal voters and an attenuation of ingroup bias
among Labor voters. Predictably, Liberal partisans emphasized their personal support for the
Government (i.e., ingroup) response to the issues of immigration and defense, whereas Labor
partisans expressed little personal support for the Government’s (outgroup’s) stand. At the same
time, however, Labor partisans showed little enthusiasm for their own party’s response to the
on-agenda issues, and especially to the issue of defense, suggesting that they felt a deal of
dissatisfaction with both political parties. Similarly, although Labor partisans demonstrated a
predictable preference for their own leader (Kim Beazley) over the Prime Minister (John
Howard), Liberal partisans displayed much stronger ingroup bias. Clearly, the election agenda
favored the conservative side, instilling confidence among Liberal partisans and producing more
conflicted thoughts among Labor partisans––concerns that were further evidenced in the
contemplation of a non-partisan vote.
Set against Labor partisans’ conscious downplaying of the personal importance of the
agenda issues, pre- and post-election, evidence of a causal association between pre-election
issue importance and post-election reports of voting behaviour was particularly persuasive.
Labor partisans not only exhibited a less partisan vote than their Liberal counterparts on election
day, but also showed a deal of personal reservation and concern about their vote to the extent
that they had accepted the public agenda issues as personally important pre-election. Post-
election, Labor partisans reported having thought more about their voting decision and having
reconsidered their voting decision more to the extent that they had personally accepted the
immigration agenda. Moreover, personal importance of the issue of immigration pre-election,
worked in a directly opposite way for Liberal partisans, promoting less reconsideration (or more
consolidation) of partisan voting intention. Similarly, the personal importance of defense pre-
election also worked to make Labor partisans less certain and Liberal partisans more certain
about their voting decision post-election, findings congruent with the politically-loaded nature of
the issue. These patterns across three separate measures of political decision-making
demonstrated not only that the agenda was consequential in terms of individual political
behavior, but also that the consequences differed predictably as a function of partisanship. In
this sense, partisan identity served to contrast the political thinking of Liberal and Labor


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