Being Certain Versus Being Right: Citizen Certainty and Accuracy of House Candidates' Ideological Orientations

Being Certain Versus Being Right: Citizen Certainty and Accuracy of House Candidates' Ideological... Research on voting behavior has been reinvigorated by focusing on citizens' certainty of candidates' issue positions and ideological orientations. According to this perspective, citizens are inclined to support candidates whom they are confident possess attributes they deem important. Analysis of citizens' perceptual certainty and perceptual accuracy of 1994, 1996, and 1998 House candidates' ideological orientations reveals that many candidate characteristics (incumbency, fiscal resources) that enhance certainty fail to improve perceptual accuracy. The electoral consequence of this fact is that candidates endowed with these resources benefit from the importance of certainty to citizens without paying the electoral costs of clarifying their issue positions and ideological orientations. Similarly, several characteristics of citizens that lead to certainty reduction—gender and caring about the outcome of the election, for example—fail to improve perceptual accuracy. The implications of the empirical findings for the role of citizens' assessments of certainty in the voting decision for producing an informed electorate are considered here. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Political Behavior Springer Journals

Being Certain Versus Being Right: Citizen Certainty and Accuracy of House Candidates' Ideological Orientations

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2003 by Plenum Publishing Corporation
Subject
Political Science and International Relations; Political Science; Sociology, general
ISSN
0190-9320
eISSN
1573-6687
D.O.I.
10.1023/A:1025115523298
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Research on voting behavior has been reinvigorated by focusing on citizens' certainty of candidates' issue positions and ideological orientations. According to this perspective, citizens are inclined to support candidates whom they are confident possess attributes they deem important. Analysis of citizens' perceptual certainty and perceptual accuracy of 1994, 1996, and 1998 House candidates' ideological orientations reveals that many candidate characteristics (incumbency, fiscal resources) that enhance certainty fail to improve perceptual accuracy. The electoral consequence of this fact is that candidates endowed with these resources benefit from the importance of certainty to citizens without paying the electoral costs of clarifying their issue positions and ideological orientations. Similarly, several characteristics of citizens that lead to certainty reduction—gender and caring about the outcome of the election, for example—fail to improve perceptual accuracy. The implications of the empirical findings for the role of citizens' assessments of certainty in the voting decision for producing an informed electorate are considered here.

Journal

Political BehaviorSpringer Journals

Published: Oct 7, 2004

References

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