Little attention has been paid to the influence of expectations for victory on the formation of general election preferences in U.S. presidential races. There is good reason to believe, however, that under certain conditions citizens' forecasts of who will win the fall election may influence their preference and their vote. We model preferences during the course of the fall 1992 campaign as a function of two kinds of expectations. First we attempt to identify a component of expectations that is independent of political projection. We discover that expectations based only on information about the race play a prominent role in preference formation early in the fall but decline later as the cost of information drops. Similar results obtain when we include projection in the model of expectations. We conclude that general elections may have some of the same dynamic properties that are observable in primaries. Since early momentum in the fall campaign may influence subsequent preference formation, we contend that leads in early polls are valuable.
Political Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 14, 2004
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