Getting Tough on China: Are Campaign Ads A Signal of Future Policy or Just Cheap Talk?
Legislative Studies Quarterly
24 Pages Posted: 15 May 2020 Last revised: 24 Nov 2020
Date Written: April 20, 2020
Is tough-on-China campaign rhetoric cheap talk or a signal of policy attention? Analyzing China-related campaign advertisements during the 2010 midterm elections and subsequent cosponsorship of China-related bills, we find that campaign ads are a noisy predictor of legislative attention. Challengers who attacked on China were more likely to cosponsor China-related legislation, while incumbents who were attacked for being soft on China took tougher positions on China after reelection. By demonstrating the correspondence between anti-China campaign appeals and subsequent legislative attention, our findings add to a growing body of evidence linking campaign rhetoric to members’ legislative agendas. This research note provides the first evidence demonstrating the connection between campaign appeals and legislative attention on a foreign policy issue like China.
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