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Political Context, Issue Salience, and Selective Attentiveness: Constituent Knowledge of the Clarence Thomas Confirmation Vote

Vincent L. Hutchings
The Journal of Politics
Vol. 63, No. 3 (Aug., 2001), pp. 846-868
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2691716
Page Count: 23
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Political Context, Issue Salience, and Selective Attentiveness: Constituent Knowledge of the Clarence Thomas Confirmation Vote
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Abstract

According to the issue salience hypothesis, citizens tend to acquire information on subjects they perceive as important. However, past efforts to demonstrate this have been mixed. I argue that this is because scholars often fail to recognize the importance of overlapping group memberships. I maintain that different group memberships-a traditional proxy for issue salience-can cancel out effects if they are in conflict. Some research has also shown that cues in the political environment increase levels of political information. Extending this line of research, I hypothesize that the interaction of salience with environmental cues influences both information and participation levels. I find that an examination of the confirmation vote for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas largely confirms these hypotheses.

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