While numerous works explores how single events or political actions affect public opinion, almost no research explores how this effect evolves with repeated actions. The Conditional Response Model holds that while elite actors can influence and polarize the public when they first act on an issue, subsequent action will not have this same effect. We challenge this model based on its depiction of psychological models of attitude formation and change. Instead of focusing on the number of times an actor has addressed an issue, we argue that the state of public opinion is the key to determining how the public will react to multiple elite actions over a long timeframe. We examine how the public reacted to multiple Supreme Court decisions on abortion. Our results suggest that the Conditional Response Model does a poor job of depicting public opinion and that actors are not limited in their influence by the number of previous actions on an issue.
Political Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 31, 2006
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