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The Influence of Democratic Competition on Public Opinion

American Political Science Review, 2008

48 Pages Posted: 30 Jul 2007  

Dennis Chong

Northwestern University - Department of Political Science

James N. Druckman

Northwestern University - Department of Political Science

Abstract

What is the effect of democratic competition on the power of elites to frame public opinion? We address this issue first by defining the range of competitive contexts that might surround any debate over a policy issue. We then offer a theory that predicts how audiences, messages, and competitive environments interact to influence the magnitude of framing effects. These hypotheses are tested using experimental data gathered on the opinions of adults and college students toward two policy issues - the management of urban growth, and the right of an extremist group to conduct a rally. Our results indicate that framing effects depend more heavily on the qualities of frames than on their frequency of dissemination, and that competition alters but does not eliminate the influence of framing. We conclude by discussing the implications of these results for the study of public opinion and democratic political debate.

Keywords: public opinion, experiments, framing, media

Suggested Citation

Chong, Dennis and Druckman, James N., The Influence of Democratic Competition on Public Opinion. American Political Science Review, 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1003305

Dennis Chong (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Department of Political Science ( email )

601 University Place (Scott Hall)
Evanston, IL 60201
United States
847-491-2642 (Phone)

James N. Druckman

Northwestern University - Department of Political Science ( email )

601 University Place (Scott Hall)
Evanston, IL 60201
United States
847-491-7450 (Phone)

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