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Campaigning in Past Tense: How Candidate Background Alters Issue Agendas
Unformatted Document Text:  which makes it the top issue in the campaign. On the other hand, campaigns may make frequent references to the Economy & Jobs, but spent less time on each mention. While some issues received a great deal of attention in the campaign, others received little mention. One or two campaigns may have found an issue such as the Minimum Wage useful to discuss, but the issue was not a part of the campaign’s broader issue agenda. I limit my analysis of the issue agenda in 2004 to the 18 most frequently mentioned issues (these issues are italicized in Table 1). These are the issues that were mentioned in more than ten advertisements. 8 Issue Agendas in Campaign Advertisements Having determined the issue agenda, I now examine if a candidate’s reputation increases the likelihood that their campaign will highlight an issue. Figure 1 compares the percentage of advertisements that mention each issue for campaigns whose candidate had developed a reputation on an issue, and those who candidate had no such reputation. By and large, campaigns are more likely to discuss an issue when their candidate has a reputation on that issue. This positive relationship is seen in 16 of the 18 issues under study. FIGURE 1 About Here As an example, take the issue of Economy & Jobs. The results show that this was an issue that campaigns wanted to highlight in the 2004 campaing. Thus, campaigns whose candidate did not have a reputation for saving jobs discussed the issue in 27% of the ads they produced. But for the campaigns whose candidates were noted for focusing on jobs, they especially wanted to highlight the issue. These campaigns mentioned the Economy & Jobs in 71% of the advertisements they produced. While the pattern is starker on this issue than the others, the 8 I did not include Other Children s Issues in the analysis. No candidate had developed a reputation on this issue, which made comparisons impossible. 9

Authors: Arbour, Brian.
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which makes it the top issue in the campaign. On the other hand, campaigns may make frequent
references to the Economy & Jobs, but spent less time on each mention.
While some issues received a great deal of attention in the campaign, others received
little mention. One or two campaigns may have found an issue such as the Minimum Wage useful
to discuss, but the issue was not a part of the campaign’s broader issue agenda. I limit my
analysis of the issue agenda in 2004 to the 18 most frequently mentioned issues (these issues are
italicized in Table 1). These are the issues that were mentioned in more than ten advertisements.
Issue Agendas in Campaign Advertisements
Having determined the issue agenda, I now examine if a candidate’s reputation increases
the likelihood that their campaign will highlight an issue. Figure 1 compares the percentage of
advertisements that mention each issue for campaigns whose candidate had developed a
reputation on an issue, and those who candidate had no such reputation. By and large, campaigns
are more likely to discuss an issue when their candidate has a reputation on that issue. This
positive relationship is seen in 16 of the 18 issues under study.
FIGURE 1 About Here
As an example, take the issue of Economy & Jobs. The results show that this was an issue
that campaigns wanted to highlight in the 2004 campaing. Thus, campaigns whose candidate did
not have a reputation for saving jobs discussed the issue in 27% of the ads they produced. But for
the campaigns whose candidates were noted for focusing on jobs, they especially wanted to
highlight the issue. These campaigns mentioned the Economy & Jobs in 71% of the
advertisements they produced. While the pattern is starker on this issue than the others, the
8
I did not include Other Children s Issues in the analysis. No candidate had developed a reputation on this issue,
which made comparisons impossible.
9


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