Political Behavior, Vol. 25, No. 1, March 2003 ( 2003)
AND PERFORMANCE VOTING
Patrick Fournier, Andre
Blais, Richard Nadeau,
Elisabeth Gidengil, and Neil Nevitte
Issue importance mediates the impact of public policy issues on electoral decisions.
Individuals who consider that an issue is important are more likely to rely on their
attitudes toward that issue when evaluating candidates and deciding for whom to vote.
The logic behind the link between issue importance and issue voting should translate
to a link between issue importance and performance voting. Incumbent performance
evaluations regarding an issue should have a stronger impact on the vote choice of
individuals who find that issue important. The analysis demonstrates that there is a
significant interaction between performance evaluations and issue importance. People
concerned about an issue assign more weight to their evaluations of the government’s
performance on that issue when making up their mind.
Key words: issue importance; government performance; vote choice; heterogeneity.
Issue importance is a significant mediator of issue voting (Krosnick, 1988,
1990). The impact of various policy attitudes on candidate appraisal and vote
choice is stronger among those individuals who feel that the issue in question
is important. Although this interaction has large implications for our estimates
of issue voting and our understanding of voting behavior, it has received little
attention since the publication of Krosnick’s studies. Issue importance is rarely
integrated into models of political decision.
This article seeks to expand the work of Krosnick on the mediating role of
issue importance. It determines whether the impact of incumbent perfor-
mance evaluations on vote choice is mediated by issue importance. The analy-
sis draws on the 1997 Canadian Election Study, which contains detailed mea-
Patrick Fournier, Assistant Professor, De
partement de Science Politique, Universite
al, C.P. 6128, Succ. Centre-Ville, Montre
bec, Canada, H3C 3J7 (patrick.fournier@
Blais, Professor, and Richard Nadeau, Professor, Universite
Elisabeth Gidengil, Professor, McGill University. Neil Nevitte, Professor, University of Toronto.
0190-9320/03/0300-0051/0 2003 Plenum Publishing Corporation