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Agenda setting and political partisanship in an election campaign: Reinforcing and undermining partisan voting intentions
Unformatted Document Text:  3 1961), political messages are selectively attended to, recalled and categorized as a function of one’s initial attitudinal position: Consonant messages are likely to be accepted by political partisans whereas counter-attitudinal messages are likely to be resisted. Further, partisans are likely to be particularly critical of messages that they perceive as hostile towards or biased against their side (Duck, Terry, & Hogg , 1998; Giner-Sorolla & Chaiken, 1994; Perloff, 1989; Vallone, Ross, & Lepper, 1985) and concerned about the likely impact of such messages on others (viz. third-person effects, Davison, 1983; Duck et al., 1998). Evidence for the salience of political identity during election campaigns is revealed in the demonstration of pronounced partisan biases in beliefs about campaign effects on ingroup and outgroup members (e.g., Duck, Hogg, & Terry, 1995; Duck, et al., 1998). One implication of the powerful anchoring or filtering effects of political partisanship is that evidence for direct persuasion or attitude change is rarely observed in democratic campaigns in which the messages of one side are offset by messages of the other, leading some to question why politicians continue to invest so heavily in media-based political campaigns (see Iyengar & Simon, 2000). Indeed, it seems that “Only relatively small numbers of voters switch their vote at elections and the parties’ campaign efforts chiefly influence those undecided between the parties when the election is called” (Stewart & Ward, 1992, p. 186). In this respect then, the media potentially has limited effects. However, McCombs and colleagues (e.g., McCombs & Estrada, 1996; McCombs, Lopez-Escobar, & Llamas, 2000; McCombs & Reynolds, 2002; McCombs & Shaw, 1972; McCombs et al., 1997; Protess & McCombs, 1991; Shaw, McCombs, Weaver, & Hamm, 1999) have pointed to a more subtle and indirect influence of the media in telling us what to think about, rather than what to think. Three decades of research has provided substantial evidence for the proposition that public judgments of the salience or importance of issues follows the prominence of the media agenda (McLeod, Kosicki, & McLeod, 2002). This evidence comes from time-series comparisons of the national news agenda and aggregated issue ratings from opinion polls (e.g., Brosius & Kepplinger, 1990; Funkhouser, 1973), panel studies examining the sequencing of changes in the issue saliences of individual respondents (McCombs, 1977), cross-sectional surveys comparing contrasting media agendas with issue saliences of their respective audiences (McLeod, Becker, & Byrnes, 1974), and experiments manipulating the agenda of televised newscasts (Iyengar & Kinder, 1987). Although agenda-setting research has

Authors: Duck, Julie., Morton, Thomas. and Fortey, Kate.
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1961), political messages are selectively attended to, recalled and categorized as a function of
one’s initial attitudinal position: Consonant messages are likely to be accepted by political
partisans whereas counter-attitudinal messages are likely to be resisted. Further, partisans are
likely to be particularly critical of messages that they perceive as hostile towards or biased
against their side (Duck, Terry, & Hogg , 1998; Giner-Sorolla & Chaiken, 1994; Perloff, 1989;
Vallone, Ross, & Lepper, 1985) and concerned about the likely impact of such messages on
others (viz. third-person effects, Davison, 1983; Duck et al., 1998). Evidence for the salience of
political identity during election campaigns is revealed in the demonstration of pronounced
partisan biases in beliefs about campaign effects on ingroup and outgroup members (e.g., Duck,
Hogg, & Terry, 1995; Duck, et al., 1998).
One implication of the powerful anchoring or filtering effects of political partisanship is
that evidence for direct persuasion or attitude change is rarely observed in democratic
campaigns in which the messages of one side are offset by messages of the other, leading some
to question why politicians continue to invest so heavily in media-based political campaigns (see
Iyengar & Simon, 2000). Indeed, it seems that “Only relatively small numbers of voters switch
their vote at elections and the parties’ campaign efforts chiefly influence those undecided
between the parties when the election is called” (Stewart & Ward, 1992, p. 186). In this respect
then, the media potentially has limited effects.
However, McCombs and colleagues (e.g., McCombs & Estrada, 1996; McCombs,
Lopez-Escobar, & Llamas, 2000; McCombs & Reynolds, 2002; McCombs & Shaw, 1972;
McCombs et al., 1997; Protess & McCombs, 1991; Shaw, McCombs, Weaver, & Hamm, 1999)
have pointed to a more subtle and indirect influence of the media in telling us what to think
about, rather than what to think. Three decades of research has provided substantial evidence for
the proposition that public judgments of the salience or importance of issues follows the
prominence of the media agenda (McLeod, Kosicki, & McLeod, 2002). This evidence comes
from time-series comparisons of the national news agenda and aggregated issue ratings from
opinion polls (e.g., Brosius & Kepplinger, 1990; Funkhouser, 1973), panel studies examining
the sequencing of changes in the issue saliences of individual respondents (McCombs, 1977),
cross-sectional surveys comparing contrasting media agendas with issue saliences of their
respective audiences (McLeod, Becker, & Byrnes, 1974), and experiments manipulating the
agenda of televised newscasts (Iyengar & Kinder, 1987). Although agenda-setting research has


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