The Electoral Consequences of Issue Frames

TitleThe Electoral Consequences of Issue Frames
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsPeterson, Erik, and G. Simonovits
Journal titleJournal of Politics

What happens after issue frames shape public opinion? We offer an account of the downstream effects of issue frames on candidate choice. We then use three studies combining issue framing experiments with conjoint candidate choice experiments to directly assess these downstream effects. Despite an ideal setting for elite influence on public opinion, we find that frames ultimately have modest effects on how the public later evaluates politicians. Our theoretical framework highlights two sources of this disconnect. Frame-induced opinion change is only one component, often outweighed by other factors, in candidate choice, and the issues most amenable to framing are the least relevant for evaluating candidates. This introduces a new consideration into debates about the political consequences of issue frames. Even after they change the public’s policy opinions, issue frames may still have limited implications for other political outcomes.

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Department of Political Science
Doctoral School of Political Science, Public Policy and International Relations
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