VALUES, FRAMES, AND PERSUASION IN
PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION CAMPAIGNS
David C. Barker
This paper examines the persuasability of rhetorical value framing within a presi-
dential nominating campaign, in an effort to understand how values and value-laden
language may provide useful signals in electoral contexts where partisan cues are
absent. Relying on a survey-experiment conducted during the 2000 Republican nom-
ination campaign, I evaluate the relative persuasiveness of arguments framed in either
individualistic or egalitarian terms. Drawing upon an ‘‘active-receiver’’ model of
framing effects, I posit that Republican primary voters respond more readily to can-
didates when they use individualistic frames than when they use egalitarian frames,
because individualism is a more ‘‘chronically accessible’’ value construct for Republi-
cans. Furthermore, I hypothesize that this dynamic is particularly pronounced among
more educated respondents, who have been trained to recognize abstract value cues
and automatically apply them to applied political contexts. The experimental ﬁndings
support these hypotheses.
Key words: values; framing; persuasion; primaries; nominations; partisanship; rheto-
ric; communication; campaigns; survey experiments; education.
Persuasion may be considered the DNA of democratic politics, and a
mounting body of scholarship is now being devoted to mapping this politi-
cal genome (e.g., Barker, 2002; Cobb and Kuklinski, 1997; Mutz et al.,
1996). The persuasive utility of general electoral campaigns, in particular,
has generated a great deal of scholarly interest (e.g., Lau et al., 1999; Shaw,
By contrast, presidential nomination campaigns have received less
David C. Barker, Department of Political Science. University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA,
15260, USA. (email@example.com).
Political Behavior, Vol. 27, No. 4, December 2005 (
0190-9320/05/1200-0375/0 Ó 2005 Springer ScienceþBusiness Media, Inc.