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Hillygus and Jackman: Voter decision making in election 2000

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Hillygus and Jackman. 2003. Voter decision making in election 2000: Campaign effects, partisan activation, and the Clinton lega. AJPS 47: 583-96.

Main Point

By looking at panel data using daily surveys during the 2000 campaign, we can see what kinds of voters are likely to switch vote choice, and when. Aggregate data (e.g. Johnston et al 2001) does not allow us to say 'who' is changing their mind, only that aggregate support for each candidate has changed.

Findings

  • Gore "won" the conventions: The convention brought increased support from Democrats, independents, and the undecided.
  • Bush "won" the debates: They brought him increased support from Republicans, independents, and the undecided.
  • Partisans were more likely to change their minds if they were less interested in the campaign--probably because the highly interested partisans made up their minds in advance.
  • Clinton disapproval interacted with the effects above (see Fig 3). E.g. people who disliked Clinton responded less to Gore's win at the conventions, but people who liked Clinton responded more. Vice versa for Bush and the debates.

Data

Survey data conducted from a randomly selected panel frequently during the campaign season. Many responses every day. Panel effects are minimized because the panel answered only a few political questions mixed in with frequent marketing surveys.

Criticism

  • Generally good. Johnston et al (2001) identify 7 moments in the 2000 campaign when Gore support clearly changed. Too bad this study looks only at the conventions and debates, and not at the other changes.