The data used in this study are publicly available through the Annenberg Public Policy Center at http://www.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org/NewsDetails.aspx?myId=263. For purposes of replication, documentation of the coding used to create the variables and run the analyses has been uploaded to the American Journal of Political Science Data Archive site: http://dvn.iq.harvard.edu/dvn/dv/ajps.
Activation, Conversion, or Reinforcement? The Impact of Partisan News Exposure on Vote Choice
Article first published online: 15 JUL 2013
©2013, Midwest Political Science Association
American Journal of Political Science
Volume 58, Issue 1, pages 79–94, January 2014
How to Cite
Dilliplane, S. (2014), Activation, Conversion, or Reinforcement? The Impact of Partisan News Exposure on Vote Choice. American Journal of Political Science, 58: 79–94. doi: 10.1111/ajps.12046
- Issue published online: 2 JAN 2014
- Article first published online: 15 JUL 2013
This study uses multiwave panel data from the 2008 presidential election to investigate the impact of partisan news exposure on changes in vote preferences over time. Overcoming key limitations of prior research, the analysis distinguishes among the potential effects originally delineated by Lazarsfeld and colleagues (1948): (1) activation—motivating partisans who initially say they are undecided or planning to defect to shift their vote back to their own party's candidate; (2) conversion—motivating partisans to shift their vote to the opposing party's candidate; and (3) reinforcement—strengthening partisans’ preference for their initial vote choice. The results reveal only modest evidence that partisan news reinforces existing vote preferences. Surprisingly, partisan news plays a more robust role motivating changes in vote choice: news slanted toward citizens’ own partisanship increased the odds of activation and decreased the odds of conversion, while news slanted away from citizens’ own partisanship proved a strong counterforce working in the opposite direction.