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Determinants and effects of the short-term dynamics in issue ownership

English title Determinants and effects of the short-term dynamics in issue ownership
Applicant Sciarini Pascal
Number 165489
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Département de science politique et relations internationales Université de Genève
Institution of higher education University of Geneva - GE
Main discipline Political science
Start/End 01.08.2017 - 31.07.2020
Approved amount 183'113.00
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Keywords (5)

electoral choice; campaign effects; issue ownership; Switzerland; panel survey

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Ce projet s'intéresse aux effets de la campagne électorale sur les perceptions des votants quant à la manière dont les partis s'occupent des enjeux politiques, et à l'impact de ces perceptions sur la stabilité et le changement des préférences partisanes au cours de la campagne électorale.
Lay summary

La littérature sur la "propriété de l'enjeu" ("issue ownership") s'intéresse aux associations que font les votants entre des enjeux politiques spécifiques et les partis politiques. Dans un premier temps, la recherche s'est concentrée sur le côté de l'offre électorale, c'est-à-dire sur la stratégie des partis consistant à mettre l'accent sur les enjeux sur lesquels ils ont une forte réputation de compétence, afin d'attirer les voix des électeurs et électrices. Plus récemment, la recherche s'est tournée vers l'impact des perceptions des votants quant à la manière dont les partis s'occupent des enjeux sur leur comportement électoral. Elle a également mis l'accent sur le caractère dynamique de ces perceptions individuelles. Cependant, on sait encore assez peu sur la manière dont ces perceptions se forment au cours d'une campagne électorale et comment et dans quelle mesure elles influencent le vote.

L'objectif de ce projet est d'étudier les déterminants et les effets de la dynamique du "issue ownership" dans le contexte des élections fédérales de 2015. Notre hypothèse générale est double. Premièrement, nous postulons que les perceptions des citoyens relatives à la saillance des enjeux politiques et à la manière dont les partis s'occupent de ces enjeux varient au cours de la campagne électorale en fonction des activités des partis et de l'attention que les médias accordent à ces enjeux. Deuxièmement, nous faisons l'hypothèse que ces variations en termes de perceptions influencent à leur tour la stabilité et le changement des intentions de vote.

Empiriquement, nous nous appuyons d'une part sur des données sur la champagne électorale (matériel de campagne des partis et couverture médiatique), collectées dans le cadre du projet FNS Professeur boursier de la co-requérante, et d'autre part sur une enquête panel de quatre vagues conduites dans le cadre du projet FNS Swiss election studies 2015.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 08.04.2016

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Name Institute

Publications

Publication
Short‐Term Dynamics in Issue Ownership and Electoral Choice Formation
Petitpas Adrien, Sciarini Pascal (2018), Short‐Term Dynamics in Issue Ownership and Electoral Choice Formation, in Swiss Political Science Review, 24(4), 423-441.
The (In)stability of Voters’ Perceptions of Competence and Associative Issue Ownership: The Role of Media Campaign Coverage
Tresch Anke, Feddersen Alexandra (2018), The (In)stability of Voters’ Perceptions of Competence and Associative Issue Ownership: The Role of Media Campaign Coverage, in Political Communication, 36(3), 394-411.
The more the better? Cumulative issue ownership and intra-campaign party switching
Petitpas Adrien, Sciarini Pascal, The more the better? Cumulative issue ownership and intra-campaign party switching, in Electoral Studies.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Prof. Romain Lachat, Department of political and social sciences Spain (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Annual conference of the Swiss Political Science Association Talk given at a conference How does Party Communication Trigger Instability in Voters’ Perceptions of Parties’ Issue Competence ? 04.02.2020 Lucerne, Switzerland Petitpas Adrien;
European Consortium for Political Research - General Conference Talk given at a conference How does Party Communication Trigger Instability in Voters’ Perceptions of Parties’ Issue Competence ? 05.09.2019 Wroclaw, Poland Petitpas Adrien;
International Society of Political Psychology Talk given at a conference AP How does Party Communication Trigger Instability in Voters’ Perceptions of Parties’ Issue Competence ? 15.07.2019 Lisboa, Portugal Petitpas Adrien;
Annual Conference of the Swiss Political Science Association Talk given at a conference Short-Term Dynamics in Issue Ownership Perceptions and Within Campaign Volatility in Party Choice 15.02.2019 Zurich, Switzerland Petitpas Adrien; Sciarini Pascal;
University of Geneva staff seminar Individual talk The More the Better? Short-Term Dynamics in Issue Ownership Perceptions and Party Switching 12.11.2018 Geneva, Switzerland Sciarini Pascal; Petitpas Adrien;
Annual conference of the Swiss Political Science Association Talk given at a conference The More The Better? Cumulative Issue Ownership and Electoral Choice 06.02.2018 Geneva, Switzerland Sciarini Pascal; Petitpas Adrien;
Selects author workshop for the Special Issue on the Swiss 2015 Elections Talk given at a conference Short-Term Dynamics in Issue Ownership and Electoral Choice Formation 12.10.2017 Neuchâtel, Switzerland Petitpas Adrien; Sciarini Pascal; Tresch Anke;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: print media, online media Avec son affiche électorale, l’UDC fait fausse route Le Temps Western Switzerland 2019
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Les électeurs privilégient les partis les plus compétents www.defacto.expert Western Switzerland Rhaeto-Romanic Switzerland German-speaking Switzerland International Italian-speaking Switzerland 2018

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
150999 Swiss Electoral Studies (Selects) 2014-2016 01.01.2014 Research Infrastructure

Abstract

Issue ownership refers to the fact that specific political parties are, in voters' minds, associated with specific policy issues and considered best able to deal with them. Over the last decade, the issue ownership literature has grown rapidly. The weakening of long-term determinants of the vote choice and the increasing importance of campaign-related factors accounts for this growth. Issue ownership scholars initially focused on the supply side of the electoral process and mainly attempted to explain party behavior. They argue that political actors emphasize issues on which they have a strong reputation of competence, as part of their strategy to attract voters. Recently, scholars began to address the role of issue ownership from the perspective of its impact on the electoral choice of individual voters. In parallel to this growing interest in issue ownership as a determinant of the individual vote, scholars have also paid more attention to the concept itself, distinguishing between an associative and competence dimension. While recent studies support the idea that voters tend to cast their vote for the party that owns salient campaign issues, the differential role played by the two dimensions of issue ownership has yet to be clarified.The recent literature has also started to recognize the dynamic character of issue ownership, which has proven to be less stable than initially assumed. However, so far the dynamic nature of issue ownership perceptions was mostly explored at the aggregate level, and from a long-term perspective. Studies looking at stability and change in voters' issue ownership perceptions from a short-term and individual perspective are still scarce. More precisely, we know little about how and to what extent the election campaign influences citizens' assessment of issue salience and issue ownership, and how these assessments influence their electoral choice.Against this background, the purpose of our research project is to study the determinants and effects of the short-term dynamics of issue ownership at the individual level in the context of the 2015 parliamentary election campaign in Switzerland. Our general assumption is twofold. First we assume that citizens' perception of issue salience and of parties' issue ownership fluctuates during the electoral campaign as a result of parties' campaign activities and issue attention in the media. Second, we hypothesize that these fluctuations influence the stability and change of vote choice.Empirically, we will rely on two types of data. On the one hand, to assess the determinants of citizens' issue ownership perceptions, we rely on data of the electoral campaign (i.e., parties' campaign material as well as media coverage), which will be gathered in a parallel project carried out by the co-applicant as part of her SNSF professorship. On the other hand, to measure the effects of the stability and change of citizens' issue ownership perceptions on their vote, we will use data from the four-wave panel survey that is part of the 2015 Swiss election studies. To test our hypotheses, a set of questions regarding five issues have been added: questions measuring the salience of an issue and the voters' position on that issue, and questions measuring both the associative and the competence dimensions of issue ownership. Similar questions on candidates' policy preferences and perceptions of issue salience have also been added in a survey carried out among candidates.This project will further our understanding about the differences between the associative and competence dimensions of issue ownership perceptions, with respect to the degree to which they can be changed, in which way, and with what effects on the vote choice. These findings will also have important implications for the way in which we think about election campaigns and their effects, and about parties' potentials to strategically influence voters' perceptions of issue salience and issue ownership in order to win additional votes.
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