The dynamics of candidate evaluations and vote choice in 2008: Looking to the past or future?
In this paper, we leverage a 10-wave election panel to examine the relative and dynamic effects of voter evaluations of Bush, Palin, Biden, McCain, and Obama in the 2008 presidential election. We show that the effects of these political figures on vote choice evolves through the campaign, with the predictive effects of President Bush declining after the nominees are known, and the effects of the candidates (and Palin), increasing towards Election Day. In evaluating the relative effects of these political figures on individual-level changes in vote choice during the fall campaign, we also find that evaluations of the candidates and Sarah Palin dwarf that of President Bush. Our results suggest a Bayesian model of voter decision making in which retrospective evaluations of the previous administration might provide a starting point for assessing the candidates, but prospective evaluations based on information learned during the campaign helps voters to update their candidate preference. Finally, we estimate the " Palin effect," based on individual-level changes in favorability towards the vice-presidential nominee, and conclude that her campaign performance cost McCain just under 2% of the final vote share. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.
Elis, R; Hillygus, DS; Nie, N
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