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Agenda setting and political partisanship in an election campaign: Reinforcing and undermining partisan voting intentions
Unformatted Document Text:  5 important social issue. In short, Mutz (1992, p. 92) extends a well-worn maxim by arguing that mass media may not be particularly influential in telling us what to think, or even what to think about, but media may be tremendously influential in shaping our view of what others are thinking about. Representations of the public agenda may also link to perceptions of public opinion and constitute an important, if impersonal, source of influence on political attitudes (e.g., Mutz, 1992, 1998; Noelle-Neumann, 1974, 1991). Nonetheless, the fact that media agendas are more likely to shape perceptions of public agendas than personal agendas suggests that the assessment of personal issue importance is influenced by factors other than the media (Dearing & Rogers, 1996, Rössler & Schenk, 2000; Wanta, 1997). It has been suggested, for instance, that individual differences in political sophistication and involvement (e.g., Iyengar & Kinder, 1987), worldviews and values (e.g., McLeod, Sotirovic, Voakes, Guo, & Huang, 1998), news media orientations (e.g., McLeod et al., 1998) and gratifications sought (e.g., McLeod et al., 1974) may all moderate media effects. Moreover, political partisanship seems to be a particularly important factor that might interplay with the agenda-setting process during election campaigns to produce conditional rather than universal effects (e.g., Iyengar & Kinder, 1987; McLeod et al., 1974). This would seem especially likely in the event that the agenda favors or suits one side of politics more than the other. Voters acquire beliefs about the issues or problems on which particular parties will deliver and therefore have expectations about the platform of issues on which parties and candidates should stand (e.g., Petrocik, 1996; Skitka & Robideau, 1997). Shared partisanship and shared issue expectations can resonate powerfully to inspire confidence. For instance, in one experimental study Iyengar and Valentino (2000) found that Republicans were more likely to rate the Republican candidate’s ads as informative (and less likely to rate them as misleading) when the ads addressed “Republican” issues such as drug abuse, crime and illegal immigration. Conversely, Democrats were more impressed by the Democrat candidate’s ads when they dwelled on “Democratic” issues such as social security, welfare reform and health care. In short, candidates are most effective in reinforcing the views of people of like mind when they emphasize issues on which they enjoy comparatively favorable stereotypes (Iyengar & Simon, 2000) or on issues that their side “owns” (Petrocik, 1996). By implication, partisanship may also act to minimize the effects of agenda-setting, especially when the salient issue or issues are

Authors: Duck, Julie., Morton, Thomas. and Fortey, Kate.
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5
important social issue. In short, Mutz (1992, p. 92) extends a well-worn maxim by arguing that
mass media may not be particularly influential in telling us what to think, or even what to think
about, but media may be tremendously influential in shaping our view of what others are
thinking about.
Representations of the public agenda may also link to perceptions of public opinion and
constitute an important, if impersonal, source of influence on political attitudes (e.g., Mutz,
1992, 1998; Noelle-Neumann, 1974, 1991). Nonetheless, the fact that media agendas are more
likely to shape perceptions of public agendas than personal agendas suggests that the assessment
of personal issue importance is influenced by factors other than the media (Dearing & Rogers,
1996, Rössler & Schenk, 2000; Wanta, 1997). It has been suggested, for instance, that individual
differences in political sophistication and involvement (e.g., Iyengar & Kinder, 1987),
worldviews and values (e.g., McLeod, Sotirovic, Voakes, Guo, & Huang, 1998), news media
orientations (e.g., McLeod et al., 1998) and gratifications sought (e.g., McLeod et al., 1974)
may all moderate media effects. Moreover, political partisanship seems to be a particularly
important factor that might interplay with the agenda-setting process during election campaigns
to produce conditional rather than universal effects (e.g., Iyengar & Kinder, 1987; McLeod et
al., 1974). This would seem especially likely in the event that the agenda favors or suits one
side of politics more than the other.
Voters acquire beliefs about the issues or problems on which particular parties will
deliver and therefore have expectations about the platform of issues on which parties and
candidates should stand (e.g., Petrocik, 1996; Skitka & Robideau, 1997). Shared partisanship
and shared issue expectations can resonate powerfully to inspire confidence. For instance, in one
experimental study Iyengar and Valentino (2000) found that Republicans were more likely to
rate the Republican candidate’s ads as informative (and less likely to rate them as misleading)
when the ads addressed “Republican” issues such as drug abuse, crime and illegal immigration.
Conversely, Democrats were more impressed by the Democrat candidate’s ads when they
dwelled on “Democratic” issues such as social security, welfare reform and health care. In short,
candidates are most effective in reinforcing the views of people of like mind when they
emphasize issues on which they enjoy comparatively favorable stereotypes (Iyengar & Simon,
2000) or on issues that their side “owns” (Petrocik, 1996). By implication, partisanship may also
act to minimize the effects of agenda-setting, especially when the salient issue or issues are


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