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Issue Voting

Rüdiger Schmitt-Beck


The notion of issue voting refers to electoral choices that are based on the substance of politics – collective problems for which solutions are expected from governments. That responsibility for solving problems is ascribed to the political system is not self-evident. Political cultures differ with regard to the extent to which the state is commonly held responsible for dealing with citizens’ grievances. Media reporting can stimulate the politicization of individually experienced problems by conveying the impression that they are not merely private concerns but shared by many people ( Mutz 1994 ). Although solving problems of political communities by means of binding decisions is the very essence of politics, most models of electoral behavior assign issues only a limited role. The Michigan School's attitudinal model of voting behavior sees voters’ orientations toward issues as one of three factors that determine vote choices ( Campbell et al. 1960 ). Along with electors’ party identification – a longstanding emotional tie to a party originating from early processes of political socialization – and candidate assessments , issue orientations can direct people's votes toward certain parties or candidates. Importantly, partisanship is seen as a deeply internalized, stable core of the political personality that colors perceptions and evaluations of both candidates and issues, so ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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