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Agenda setting and political partisanship in an election campaign: Reinforcing and undermining partisan voting intentions
Unformatted Document Text:  21 partisans, reinforcing partisan intentions on the one side, while undermining partisan intentions on the other. Our results also suggested that effects at the individual level could not be understood simply in terms of issue salience. Rather, it was the match between agenda issues and expectations about the platform of issues on which parties and candidates should stand and in what way that was crucial (see Iyengar & Valentino, 2000; Petrocik, 1996; Skitka & Robideau, 1997). Not only did the agenda suggest that parties and candidates should be evaluated in terms of their ability to deal effectively with the issues of defense and immigration, an agenda that, by definition, resonated with the conservative side of politics. But also, the Labor Opposition’s indecision about these issues and their failure to counter the Government’s stand with alternative and politically distinct policies promoted dissatisfaction and discontent among their followers. Labor partisans’ upgrading of confidence in the outgroup leader, John Howard, as a function of their personal acceptance of the issue of defense is a further powerful demonstration of the dual importance of issue agendas and issue ownership in the political context. In short, Labor partisans who accepted the defense agenda unexpectedly acknowledged support for the leader of the opposing party––a behavior that would typically conflict with partisan identity in an election context. Taken together, findings from the present study suggest that the process of agenda setting in election contexts needs to be considered at multiple levels. Although voters across the political spectrum might agree consensually on the important socio-political issues of the day, that is, the current public agenda, they may differ in the extent to which they accept the public agenda as their own. In particular, it seems that there can be active resistance against or downplaying at the personal level of an agenda that is “owned” by an opposing side. For this reason, the potential interplay between partisanship and agenda-setting during election campaigns should not be overlooked. However, it also seems that even partisan groups who downplay the importance of agenda issues may, nonetheless, be influenced when the agenda is politically loaded and resonates with one side of politics rather than the other: The agenda may serve primarily to shore up the confidence of one side while undermining the partisan intentions of the other. In short, although agenda-setting may promote a consensual view of important social issues, it may also result in divergent political consequences for partisan groups.

Authors: Duck, Julie., Morton, Thomas. and Fortey, Kate.
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21
partisans, reinforcing partisan intentions on the one side, while undermining partisan intentions
on the other.
Our results also suggested that effects at the individual level could not be understood
simply in terms of issue salience. Rather, it was the match between agenda issues and
expectations about the platform of issues on which parties and candidates should stand and in
what way that was crucial (see Iyengar & Valentino, 2000; Petrocik, 1996; Skitka & Robideau,
1997). Not only did the agenda suggest that parties and candidates should be evaluated in terms
of their ability to deal effectively with the issues of defense and immigration, an agenda that, by
definition, resonated with the conservative side of politics. But also, the Labor Opposition’s
indecision about these issues and their failure to counter the Government’s stand with alternative
and politically distinct policies promoted dissatisfaction and discontent among their followers.
Labor partisans’ upgrading of confidence in the outgroup leader, John Howard, as a function of
their personal acceptance of the issue of defense is a further powerful demonstration of the dual
importance of issue agendas and issue ownership in the political context. In short, Labor
partisans who accepted the defense agenda unexpectedly acknowledged support for the leader of
the opposing party––a behavior that would typically conflict with partisan identity in an election
context.
Taken together, findings from the present study suggest that the process of agenda
setting in election contexts needs to be considered at multiple levels. Although voters across the
political spectrum might agree consensually on the important socio-political issues of the day,
that is, the current public agenda, they may differ in the extent to which they accept the public
agenda as their own. In particular, it seems that there can be active resistance against or
downplaying at the personal level of an agenda that is “owned” by an opposing side. For this
reason, the potential interplay between partisanship and agenda-setting during election
campaigns should not be overlooked. However, it also seems that even partisan groups who
downplay the importance of agenda issues may, nonetheless, be influenced when the agenda is
politically loaded and resonates with one side of politics rather than the other: The agenda may
serve primarily to shore up the confidence of one side while undermining the partisan intentions
of the other. In short, although agenda-setting may promote a consensual view of important
social issues, it may also result in divergent political consequences for partisan groups.


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