Is Candidate Rhetorical Tone Associated with Vote Choice?

'Is Candidate Rhetorical Tone Associated with Vote Choice in Presidential Elections?' In Roderick Hart, ed., The Handbook of Research on Institutional Language. Hershey, PA: IGI-Globabl Publishers, Forthcoming

Posted: 22 Mar 2013 Last revised: 13 Jun 2015

Christian R. Grose

University of Southern California

Jason A. Husser

Elon University

Date Written: March 15, 2013

Abstract

Can voters be persuaded to support a candidate based on a candidate’s rhetoric instead of a candidate’s issue positions? Combining theoretical insights on voter decision-making drawn from valence theories of candidate-position taking with insights from theories of rhetoric and persuasion, the authors argue that candidate rhetorical tone can sway voters to a candidate’s side. Using DICTION 5.0, the tone of candidate speech in U.S. presidential elections is examined from 1976-2012. Candidates who present themselves using language that draws on themes of commonality, activity, and realism are more likely to win a citizen’s vote in elections. Rhetorical tone can sway voters, but only those moderate voters who are distant from both candidates. Rhetorical tone is unlikely to have an effect on voters who perceive high ideological agreement with the rhetorically-disadvantaged candidate.

Keywords: Valence advantage, Rhetoric, Rhetorical tone, Diction, text analysis, Political communication, Presidential Debates, Elections, Voting Behavior, Heresthetic, Vote choice, Ideology

Suggested Citation

Grose, Christian R. and Husser, Jason A., Is Candidate Rhetorical Tone Associated with Vote Choice? (March 15, 2013). 'Is Candidate Rhetorical Tone Associated with Vote Choice in Presidential Elections?' In Roderick Hart, ed., The Handbook of Research on Institutional Language. Hershey, PA: IGI-Globabl Publishers, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2234225

Christian R. Grose (Contact Author)

University of Southern California ( email )

Von KleinSmid Center, 327
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.christiangrose.com

Jason A. Husser

Elon University ( email )

Elon, NC 27244
United States

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