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Wanted: The Education President: Issue Trespassing by Political Candidates

Helmut Norpoth and Bruce Buchanan
The Public Opinion Quarterly
Vol. 56, No. 1 (Spring, 1992), pp. 87-99
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2749223
Page Count: 13
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Wanted: The Education President: Issue Trespassing by Political Candidates
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Abstract

The strategy of ambiguity counsels candidates for office to take up some policy positions in the territory of the opposing party. In 1988, both presidential candidates took some positions of that kind: George Bush with promises on jobs and education, and Michael Dukakis on defense. This article examines (1) how aware voters were of those incidents of "issue trespassing"; (2) whether attention to the electoral campaign helped voters become more aware; and (3) the electoral payoff of the strategy. Our findings raise serious doubts that "issue tres-passing" pays electoral dividends. Voters tend to rely too much on party stereotypes to notice such attempts, and attention to the campaign does little to mitigate that tendency in two of the three instances being examined.

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