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"New-Style" Judicial Campaigns and the Legitimacy of State High Courts
Unformatted Document Text:  A full set of tables reporting the judicial results for all respondents is available from the author upon 17 request. Since people from states using elections represent three-quarters of the total population it is notsurprising that, overall, the full sample results are quite similar to the results from the restricted sample. -12- compare these respondents with people living in states not using elections to select or retain their judges. 17 The Dependent Variable At the conceptual level, the overarching dependent variable for the vignette is the perception of whether the political actor can serve as a fair and impartial governmental policy maker. This analysis focuses on two types of measures: perceptions of the individual candidate/office holder and perceptions of the institution itself. Regarding the individual, the respondents were asked whether the office holder “can serve as a fair and impartial” judge/senator. The question focused on the institution posits that all judges/senators are selected in the same way as Judge/Senator Anderson and then asks directly about the perceived legitimacy of the institution. Finally, the respondents were asked whether they would accept the decisions he made as legitimate. The full text of these questions is reported in Appendix B. The vignette was highly successful in generating variability in the perceived impartiality of the officeholder (the winning candidate for judicial/legislative office). For example, within the judicial context, the percentages asserting that Judge Anderson can be fair and impartial range from 25.0 to 95.5 across the 18 versions of the judicial vignette; in the legislative context, the percentages vary from 30.0 to 92.9. Thus, the stories seem to have captured factors that are indeed meaningful to the respondents. One limitation of many vignette-based studies is that the dependent variable is poorly measured, often with a single-item indicator (e.g., Gibson 2002). The advantage of such an approach is that substantive research findings can be clearly and simply reported; but low reliability has, of course, many quite undesirable consequences for statistical analysis. Consequently, in the hypothesis testing here, I focus for illustrative purposes on the specific items (especially the question about whether the

Authors: Gibson, James.
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background image
A full set of tables reporting the judicial results for all respondents is available from the author upon
17
request. Since people from states using elections represent three-quarters of the total population it is not
surprising that, overall, the full sample results are quite similar to the results from the restricted sample.
-12-
compare these respondents with people living in states not using elections to select or retain their
judges.
17
The Dependent Variable
At the conceptual level, the overarching dependent variable for the vignette is the perception of whether
the political actor can serve as a fair and impartial governmental policy maker. This analysis focuses on
two types of measures: perceptions of the individual candidate/office holder and perceptions of the
institution itself. Regarding the individual, the respondents were asked whether the office holder “can
serve as a fair and impartial” judge/senator. The question focused on the institution posits that all
judges/senators are selected in the same way as Judge/Senator Anderson and then asks directly about the
perceived legitimacy of the institution. Finally, the respondents were asked whether they would accept
the decisions he made as legitimate. The full text of these questions is reported in Appendix B.
The vignette was highly successful in generating variability in the perceived impartiality of the
officeholder (the winning candidate for judicial/legislative office). For example, within the judicial
context, the percentages asserting that Judge Anderson can be fair and impartial range from 25.0 to 95.5
across the 18 versions of the judicial vignette; in the legislative context, the percentages vary from 30.0
to 92.9. Thus, the stories seem to have captured factors that are indeed meaningful to the respondents.
One limitation of many vignette-based studies is that the dependent variable is poorly measured,
often with a single-item indicator (e.g., Gibson 2002). The advantage of such an approach is that
substantive research findings can be clearly and simply reported; but low reliability has, of course, many
quite undesirable consequences for statistical analysis. Consequently, in the hypothesis testing here, I
focus for illustrative purposes on the specific items (especially the question about whether the


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