Contextual Sources of Ambivalence



When will people become ambivalent about politics? One possibility is that the roots of ambivalence lie within the individual, with differences in political knowledge and attitude strength predicting whether a person internalizes the conflicts of politics. Alternately, attitudinal ambivalence could result from structural differences in the way political choices are presented in the wider political environment. We explore the degree to which different environments promote or limit ambivalence using a matching approach in conjunction with a set of multilevel models. We find that campaign environments can induce candidate ambivalence. In presidential elections, campaign efforts promote ambivalence most when competition between partisan campaign efforts is high. In House elections, campaign spending has a direct effect on levels of candidate ambivalence, where a candidate's spending decreases ambivalence about that candidate and increases ambivalence about opponents.