Although changing policy positions is often thought of as costly for politicians, this may not always be the case. We present findings from two survey experiments designed to assess how people respond to politicians who change positions on an issue. We examine the direct effects of position changes on both summary evaluations of a candidate and ratings of a candidate’s character. We find that the effect of changing positions varies across issues and that the passage of time attenuates the negative effects of a change of position. We also find that although individual voters prefer a candidate who moves closer to their own preferred policy position to one who sticks to a disliked policy position, in the aggregate changing policy positions may be costly unless the prospective new position is supported by a supermajority of the public.
Political Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 26, 2015
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