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Agenda setting and political partisanship in an election campaign: Reinforcing and undermining partisan voting intentions
Unformatted Document Text:  8 election (pre-election) and again two weeks after the election (post-election). Initially, surveys were mailed to 1000 people who were randomly selected from the electoral roll in 4 Australian electorates, 2 urban and 2 regional. One hundred and eighty-one respondents returned completed surveys pre-election and 163 of these agreed to complete a second survey post- election. The responses of 115 respondents who returned completed surveys at both times were retained for the present sample. Given the relatively low response rate pre-election and the attrition over time, responses of 69 university students who completed the two-wave study for course credit or for a small incentive of $10 were also used to supplement the sample. Although the two sub-samples obviously differed in terms of age and education, preliminary checks indicated that the key construct of political partisanship was equally distributed within the two groups, χ 2 (2) = 1.65, ns. The final sample of 184 respondents comprised 69 males (38%) and 115 females (62%) whose ages ranged from 18 to 83 years (M = 39.62, SD = 20.37). Over half (52%) were studying towards, or had completed, a university degree and 65% lived in the city. Although the sample was not totally representative of voters, the combination of respondents from the mail-out survey and from the student group ensured a deal of diversity in terms of demographics and political background. Measures and Procedure Pre-election, participants completed a questionnaire designed to measure political partisanship, perceived media, public and personal agendas, personal opinion and perceptions of public opinion about the response of the two major parties to the focal issues, confidence in the two political leaders, voting intention and predictions about the election outcome. Post-election, respondents completed a follow-up survey that assessed actual voting behaviour, certainty about voting decision, confidence in the re-elected Prime Minister, John Howard, and explanations for the election outcome. Background measures and political partisanship. Demographics on gender, age, place of residence (urban or regional), education level (university level, lower level), and vocation (student, other) were obtained pre-election. In addition, respondents indicated how much attention they paid to news and current affairs about Australian political issues (1= none at all to 7 = a great deal) and how interested they were in politics (1 = not at all interested to 7 = very interested). Responses were averaged to provide a composite index of political interest ( α = .76), with higher scores indicating greater political interest.

Authors: Duck, Julie., Morton, Thomas. and Fortey, Kate.
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8
election (pre-election) and again two weeks after the election (post-election). Initially, surveys
were mailed to 1000 people who were randomly selected from the electoral roll in 4 Australian
electorates, 2 urban and 2 regional. One hundred and eighty-one respondents returned
completed surveys pre-election and 163 of these agreed to complete a second survey post-
election. The responses of 115 respondents who returned completed surveys at both times were
retained for the present sample. Given the relatively low response rate pre-election and the
attrition over time, responses of 69 university students who completed the two-wave study for
course credit or for a small incentive of $10 were also used to supplement the sample. Although
the two sub-samples obviously differed in terms of age and education, preliminary checks
indicated that the key construct of political partisanship was equally distributed within the two
groups,
χ
2
(2) = 1.65, ns. The final sample of 184 respondents comprised 69 males (38%) and
115 females (62%) whose ages ranged from 18 to 83 years (M = 39.62, SD = 20.37). Over half
(52%) were studying towards, or had completed, a university degree and 65% lived in the city.
Although the sample was not totally representative of voters, the combination of respondents
from the mail-out survey and from the student group ensured a deal of diversity in terms of
demographics and political background.
Measures and Procedure
Pre-election, participants completed a questionnaire designed to measure political partisanship,
perceived media, public and personal agendas, personal opinion and perceptions of public
opinion about the response of the two major parties to the focal issues, confidence in the two
political leaders, voting intention and predictions about the election outcome. Post-election,
respondents completed a follow-up survey that assessed actual voting behaviour, certainty about
voting decision, confidence in the re-elected Prime Minister, John Howard, and explanations for
the election outcome.
Background measures and political partisanship. Demographics on gender, age, place of
residence (urban or regional), education level (university level, lower level), and vocation
(student, other) were obtained pre-election. In addition, respondents indicated how much
attention they paid to news and current affairs about Australian political issues (1= none at all to
7 = a great deal) and how interested they were in politics (1 = not at all interested to 7 = very
interested). Responses were averaged to provide a composite index of political interest (
α
= .76),
with higher scores indicating greater political interest.


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