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In an earlier report, two of us (Bowers and Ensley, 2003, National Election Studies Technical Report, www.umich.edu/~nes) provided a general framework for understanding the particular strategy outlined by Fogarty et al. (in this issue). Fogarty et al.'s strategy is to make the face-to-face variables more like the random digit dial (RDD) telephone variables by trimming the ends in order to reduce the variance of the face-to-face (FTF) variables. Perhaps some scholars will want the FTF variables to look like the RDD variables, but that would be a fix for a specific research question. Given the significant differences in the representativeness of the samples, the processes of survey nonresponse, and the quality and character of the responses between data taken from a National Area Probability sample in person and data taken from an RDD telephone sample, research questions involving comparisons with other years in the 50-year time series will require different remedies.
As part of a general inquiry into mental mechanisms that operate outside conscious awareness, experimental psychology has recently established the presence and importance of “implicit attitudes.” The purpose of our paper is to compare the roles played by implicit and explicit prejudice in politics. Relying on two national surveys of the American electorate that included standard measures of implicit and explicit prejudice, we provide a systematic comparison of prejudice’s political effects: for the candidates Americans choose, the policies they favor, the assessments they make of government performance, and the racialized information they absorb. We find that implicit and explicit prejudice provide radically different pictures of racial politics in America.
Congratulations, intrepid reader! You have come a long way. After thirty-five chapters, many hundreds of pages of text, and cascades of footnotes, what more is there to say on the subject? Exactly. My remarks are thus brief.
The conference that led to this volume began with remarks by Jamie Druckman, who reminded us how right and proper it was that Northwestern University host our gathering. Northwestern was Donald Campbell's home for more than three decades, and no one was more important than Campbell in bringing the philosophy, logic, and practice of experimental methods to the social sciences. In graduate school, I was trained in experimental methods by Barry Collins, a student of Campbell's. For more than thirty years, first at Yale and later at Michigan, I have been teaching a graduate seminar on research design that draws heavily on Campbell's work. Those who survived this experience have taught similar courses elsewhere. Alterations and additions there have been along the way, of course, but the core ideas and the heart of the syllabus go back to Campbell. Throughout the conference, Campbell was never far from my mind, and he is back again now.
This is presumptuous of me to say, but I am going to go ahead and say it anyway: I believe that Campbell would have been thrilled with both the conference proceedings and the handbook that you are doing your best to keep balanced in your hands.
Freedom of expression is celebrated as one of the glories of the American political system. But does all speech deserve immunity? In particular, should speech designed to vilify or degrade on the basis of race be protected? Opinions on racist speech are complicated because they must accommodate two fundamental democratic principles that operate at cross purposes: freedom of expression, which implies support for racist speech, and racial equality, which implies the opposite. Using data from the 1990 General Social Survey, we examine how Americans resolve this conflict. Our major finding is that the principle of free expression dominates the principle of racial equality. What contemporary legal scholars regard as a hard case entailing a collision of democratic principles, ordinary Americans seem to interpret as a straightforward application of just a single principle. This result mirrors and perhaps reflects a nearly century-long and mostly lop-sided debate favouring free speech among American elites.
The disclosure that high officials within the Reagan administration had covertly diverted to the Nicaraguan Contras funds obtained from the secret sale of weapons to Iran provides us with a splendid opportunity to examine how the foundations of popular support shift when dramatic events occur. According to our theory of priming, the more attention media pay to a particular domain—the more the public is primed with it—the more citizens will incorporate what they know about that domain into their overall judgment of the president. Data from the 1986 National Election Study confirm that intervention in Central America loomed larger in the public's assessment of President Reagan's performance after the Iran-Contra disclosure than before. Priming was most pronounced for aspects of public opinion most directly implicated by the news coverage, more apparent in political notices' judgments than political experts', and stronger in the evaluations of Reagan's overall performance than in assessments of his character.
Two experiments sustain Lippmann's suspicion, advanced a half century ago, that media provide compelling descriptions of a public world that people cannot directly experience. More precisely, the experiments show that television news programs profoundly affect which problems viewers take to be important. The experiments also demonstrate that those problems promimently positioned in the evening news are accorded greater weight in viewers' evaluations of presidential performance. We note the political implications of these results, suggest their psychological foundations, and argue for a revival of experimentation in the study of political communication.
American elections depend substantially on the vitality of the national economy. Prosperity benefits candidates for the House of Representatives from the incumbent party (defined as the party that controls the presidency at the time of the election), whereas economic downturns enhance the electoral fortunes of opposition candidates. Short-term fluctuations in economic conditions also appear to affect the electorate's presidential choice, as well as the level of public approval conferred upon the president during his term. By this evidence, the political consequences of macroeconomic conditions are both pervasive and powerful. But just how do citizens know whether the incumbent party has succeeded or failed? What kinds of economic evidence do people weigh in their political appraisals? The purpose of our paper is to examine two contrasting depictions of individual citizens – one emphasizing the political significance of citizens' own economic predicaments, the other stressing the political importance of citizens' assessments of the nation's economic predicament – that might underlie the aggregate entwining of economics and politics. Ours is an inquiry into the political economy of individual citizens.
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