Political Behavior, Vol. 27, No. 1, March 2005 ( 2005) DOI 10.1007/s11109-005-3074-9 HETEROGENEITY AND CERTAINTY IN CANDIDATE EVALUATIONS David A. M. Peterson While perceptions of candidate character traits are believed to be an important pre- dictor of vote choice, very little research attempts to explain where these perceptions come from. There is also a remarkable inconsistency in the literature about which voters use traits and which use issues in voting—with completely contradictory results common. The solution to the inconsistency developed here is to focus on the rela- tionship between issues and traits as opposed to just these attitudes’ direct effect on candidate evaluations. By positing that the relationship between issues and trait per- ceptions depends on the citizen’s certainty about the candidate’s issue positions the theory develop here answers questions about the nature of trait perceptions and the heterogeneity of voter decisionmaking. The theory is tested using evaluations of ten different presidential candidates from ﬁve National Election Studies. Key words: candidate evaluations; certainty; trait perceptions; voter heterogeneity. Voters evaluate candidates like they evaluate other people they encounter. We form impressions of candidates’ abilities, intelligence, integrity, and hon- esty, and we rate and evaluate the candidates in part based on
Political Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 28, 2005
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