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The Crystallization of Voter Preferences During the 2008 Presidential Campaign

ROBERT S. ERIKSON, COSTAS PANAGOPOULOS and CHRISTOPHER WLEZIEN
Presidential Studies Quarterly
Vol. 40, No. 3, The 2008 Presidential Election, Part II (September 2010), pp. 482-496
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23044921
Page Count: 15
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Crystallization of Voter Preferences During the 2008 Presidential Campaign
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Abstract

While scholars disagree about whether and how much campaigns persuade voters, they increasingly agree that campaigns inform voters about the candidates and help voters bring their votes in line with their interests. Some argue that campaigns serve mostly to help voters bring their choices in line with preexisting political predispositions. This paper examines the crystallization of voter preferences during the 2008 presidential election campaign. The authors rely on polls from each month of the election year campaign to assess whether and how the structure of vote choice changed. The results show that certain election day predictors of the vote— especially party identification—became increasingly important predictors of preferences during the election cycle. Even the increase in party effects is mostly confined to the period leading up to the party conventions, well before the general election campaign even began. The structure of preferences evolved over the course of the long campaign.

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