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Presidents and Parties in the Public Mind$
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Gary C. Jacobson

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226589206

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226589480.001.0001

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The Coevolution of Affect toward Presidents and Parties

The Coevolution of Affect toward Presidents and Parties

Two (p.6) The Coevolution of Affect toward Presidents and Parties
Presidents and Parties in the Public Mind

Gary C. Jacobson

University of Chicago Press

Using four extensive data sets collectively covering seven decades, this chapter examines how attitudes toward presidents and their parties come to be linked in the public mind. The focus is on the affective component of political evaluations: how partisanship influences expressed feelings about presidential candidates and presidents, and how feelings about these leaders in turn influence feelings about their parties, over the course of electoral careers. Although partisan priors strongly influence people’s feelings about prospective presidents as soon as they appear on the political scene, presidential candidates and presidents exert a reciprocal influence on how people feel about their parties that grows stronger as the election approaches, remains potent while they serve, and continues, though with diminished force, after they have departed. This sequence, and the many other links between views of presidents and their parties documented throughout this book, are readily explained by constructivist theories of attitude formation and expression that emphasize the roles of priming, salience, repetition, and motivated reasoning in determining the mix of considerations in long- and short-term memory that generate survey respondents’ expressed opinions of parties and candidates.

Keywords:   presidents, presidential candidates, party affect, party identification, attitude formation, motiated reasoning

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