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Consumer Demand for Election News: The Horserace Sells

Shanto Iyengar, Helmut Norpoth and Kyu S. Hahn
The Journal of Politics
Vol. 66, No. 1 (Feb., 2004), pp. 157-175
DOI: 10.1046/j.1468-2508.2004.00146.x
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1046/j.1468-2508.2004.00146.x
Page Count: 19
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Consumer Demand for Election News: The Horserace Sells
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Abstract

Reports on the state of the horserace and analysis of the candidates' strategies are pervasive themes in news coverage of campaigns. Various explanations have been suggested for the dominance of strategy-oriented news over hard news. The most frequently identified factors are the length of the modern campaign, the built-in conflict between journalists and campaign operatives, and the pressures of the marketplace. This article provides a test of the market hypothesis. Given access to a wide variety of news reports about the presidential campaign during the weeks immediately preceding the 2000 election, we find that voters were drawn to reports on the horserace and strategy. Strategy reports proved especially popular among readers with higher levels of political engagement. In closing, we consider what journalists might do to make stories about the issues more relevant and marketable.

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