Principled or Opportunist? Perceptions of Arlen Specter and His Party Switch
Posted: 30 Mar 2011
Date Written: March 28, 2011
While the literature on party switching identifies the reasons that politicians switch parties and the negative electoral consequences of doing so, it does not adequately explore why these consequences exist. To accomplish this task we look at citizen responses to party switchers. We explore perceptions of Arlen Specter and his change in party affiliation by using original survey data gathered from residents of Pennsylvania's 3rd Congressional District. We posit that the information environment created by the parties, candidates, interest groups, and the media during the subsequent election, frames the switch as both principled and opportunistic. We find that partisanship plays a large role in the frame that is accepted by citizens and that those frames subsequently influence their views of the candidate’s favorability.
Keywords: party switching, political parties, campaigns, elections, framing, Arlen Specter
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