36 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 14 Aug 2010
Date Written: 2010
In this chapter we draw on evidence from the 2008 general election to evaluate the effects of Republican John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as a vice-presidential running mate. Our interest is not in Palin, nor in vice-presidential candidates, per se, but rather in what this particular case tells us about the electoral effects of an abrupt change in a presidential candidate’s perceived ideological position. Immediately after Palin’s selection, the relatively stable perceptions of McCain’s ideology shifted in a more conservative direction. Palin’s selection served as an effective ideological cue, signaling that the candidate was more conservative than previously thought.
McCain’s choice was widely interpreted by the press as a purposeful abandonment of the center in favor of energizing the conservative Republican base, a move that flies in the face of median voter theory. But whether his shift in perceived ideological position served as a net plus to energize those already in his camp, or a net negative – distancing him from a larger group of potential supporters – remains to be seen. Using panel data, we analyze the effects of this perceived shift on candidate preference and turnout.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Mutz, Diana C. and Dilliplane, Susanna, Running to the Right: Effects of Campaign Strategy on Mass Opinion and Behavior (2010). APSA 2010 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1643169