‘Taking Back Control’, Again: The Effect of Moral Foundation Arguments and Partisan Cues on Attitudes Towards a People’s Vote
28 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2018
Date Written: September 24, 2018
This study examines the degree to which the moral framing of arguments, and partisan cues, lead to persuasion effects among voters. We leverage the case of a second Brexit referendum, which enables us to test the limits of persuasion effects in the context of a fragmented political party actor (the Conservative Party) and a one-issue, cohesive non-parliamentary organization (Vote Leave). We use a two-stage study, incorporating (A) text-analysis of the moral justi cations for respondents' Brexit vote, and (B) an experimental study in which conservative, pro-Brexit voters are exposed to messages in favour of a second Brexit referendum. The experiment tests the effects of two factors; the argument (moral foundation/informative) and the message sponsor (Conservative Party members/Vote Leave activists/unspecified). The results of the first rst study indicate that moral (authority-based) arguments characterize conservative voters' justi cfiations of their Brexit position. However, the experimental results show that when moral arguments are not endorsed by a political actor, they are not more persuasive than an informative argument. Most importantly, we fi nd that the identity of the argument's sponsor is crucial. First, for informative messages, sponsorship leads to persuasion, but only for cases where the sponsors are Vote Leave activists and not members of the Conservative Party. Second, when moral pro-referendum arguments are sponsored by Vote Leave, they are significantly more persuasive relative to non-sponsored moral arguments, but no persuasion effect is found for Conservative party sponsorship. The results highlight the importance of cohesion and non-party actors to voters' cue-taking, and have implications for our understanding of the moral foundations of the Brexit debate.
Keywords: Brexit, Framing, Partisan Cues, Moral Foundations, Experiments
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