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Campaigning in Past Tense: How Candidate Background Alters Issue Agendas
Unformatted Document Text:  reputation on a particular issue, their campaign will be more likely to mention that issue than campaigns whose candidate has not developed such a reputation. The effect of reputation is modest; the differences in issue usage between campaigns whose candidate has a reputation and those who do not is only a few percentage points, the difference is significant in only half of the issues under study. However, the positive relationship is consistent across 15 of the 18 issues under study. The positive relationship between a candidate’s reputation and their campaign’s issue agenda is also consistent for two different measures of issue agendas—the issues discussed in individually television advertisements and across a campaign’s entire television advertising campaign—in both bivariate and multivariate analysis. Our current understanding of campaign issue agendas has tended to focus on national factors, such as issue salience and party owned issues. The findings in this paper show that models of issue agendas and emphases need to include measures of a candidate’s reputation. Without such measures, our current models are incomplete. They focus too heavily on national factors, and tend to ignore local factors. In particular, such models need to examine the candidate’s own characteristics as an influence on issue agendas. The Origins of Issue Agendas In recent years, a new stream of studies has examined the issue content of political advertising. New technologies, particularly the development of computer programs that can track the satellite downloads of television advertising, have allowed the development of more advanced databases of television advertising and other forms campaign communication. These technological advances have led to a flowering of research on the issue content of political messages. 2

Authors: Arbour, Brian.
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reputation on a particular issue, their campaign will be more likely to mention that issue than
campaigns whose candidate has not developed such a reputation. The effect of reputation is
modest; the differences in issue usage between campaigns whose candidate has a reputation and
those who do not is only a few percentage points, the difference is significant in only half of the
issues under study. However, the positive relationship is consistent across 15 of the 18 issues
under study. The positive relationship between a candidate’s reputation and their campaign’s
issue agenda is also consistent for two different measures of issue agendas—the issues discussed
in individually television advertisements and across a campaign’s entire television advertising
campaign—in both bivariate and multivariate analysis.
Our current understanding of campaign issue agendas has tended to focus on national
factors, such as issue salience and party owned issues. The findings in this paper show that
models of issue agendas and emphases need to include measures of a candidate’s reputation.
Without such measures, our current models are incomplete. They focus too heavily on national
factors, and tend to ignore local factors. In particular, such models need to examine the
candidate’s own characteristics as an influence on issue agendas.
The Origins of Issue Agendas
In recent years, a new stream of studies has examined the issue content of political
advertising. New technologies, particularly the development of computer programs that can track
the satellite downloads of television advertising, have allowed the development of more
advanced databases of television advertising and other forms campaign communication. These
technological advances have led to a flowering of research on the issue content of political
messages.
2


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