ISSUE CONVERGENCE IN PRESIDENTIAL
David F. Damore
This effort seeks to expand our understanding of the supply-side of the campaign
process by investigating how candidate competition for agenda control affects occur-
rences of issue convergence (the discussion of the same issues by competing candi-
dates) in campaigns for the presidency. More speciﬁcally, I integrate hypotheses
suggested by extant literature into a framework that captures the factors that motivate
presidential candidates’ selection of issues and the factors that affect their decisions to
address issues also discussed by their opponents. These hypotheses are tested with
duration analysis and data gathered from all available campaign advertisements pro-
duced by candidates competing in the 1976 through 1996 presidential elections. The
results indicate that occurrences of issue convergences are quite frequent in presi-
dential campaigns and that candidates’ decisions to address the same issues are
affected by an issue’s saliency and partisan ownership, as well by changes in the
Key words: presidential campaigns; agenda setting; candidate strategy; campaign
communication; campaign issues.
Traditionally, the study of campaigns and elections has focused on the
effects that campaigns have on voters (e.g., voting behavior and information
processing). While this approach has resulted in a robust understanding of the
decision making of voters, with some exceptions (e.g., Franklin, 1991; Jacobs
and Shapiro, 1994; Petrocik, Benoit, and Honsen, 2003–2004), it has offered
minimal insight into the behavior of candidates. As a consequence, we know
little about what candidates do, particularly in terms of the information they
communicate to voters.
David F. Damore, Department of Political Science, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 4505
Maryland Parkway, Box 455029, Las Vegas, NV 89154 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Political Behavior, Vol. 27, No. 1, March 2005 (
0190-9320/05/0300-0071/0 Ó 2005 Springer Science+Business Media Inc.