Policy salience and election outcomes in contemporary american presidential elections (1972 -2000)
Asingo, Patrick O.
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This article examines the influence of policy salience on election outcomes using aggregate U.S. presidential election data and the American National Election Studies poll data from 1972 to 2000. It finds that salience influences election outcomes consistent with the Schattschneider-Lowi thesis that policy determines politics. While salience levels are typically low, relatively higher salience yields more popular votes for Republicans than Democrats. Consequently, Republicans typically win by higher margins and lose by smaller margins compared to Democrats. Moreover, an incumbent is likely to be reelected if his party's salience levels remain higher than the challenger's. Finally, the policy salience thesis provides useful clues in the quest for a unified voting theory. It suggests that voters rely on rationality and self-interest to obtain answers to two pertinent questions, whose answers determine how they vote: (1) what is the most important problem; and (2) who can address it? These questions also undergird other voting theories.
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