A Caltech Library Service

Issues and the presidential primary voter

Aldrich, John H. and Alvarez, R. Michael (1994) Issues and the presidential primary voter. Political Behavior, 16 (3). pp. 289-317. ISSN 0190-9320. doi:10.1007/BF01498953.

[img] PDF (sswp 849 - published) - Published Version
Restricted to Caltech community only
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Most agree that voting in presidential general elections is largely contingent on the evaluations of the candidates, issues, and parties. Yet inpresidential primary elections the determinants of voter choices are less clear. Partisanship is inconsequential, information about candidate personalities and policy positions is scarce, and a fourth factor, expectations, may influence voters. In this paper, we reconsider the influence ofpolitical issues in presidential primaries. We argue that past work has not adequately considered how issues matter in primary elections. Primaries are intraparty affairs, and the political issues that typically divide the parties are not very relevant in primaries. Instead, we focus on the policy issues each candidate chooses to emphasize in their quest for the nomination, which we call policy priorities. With data gathered about media coverage of the presidential contenders in the 1988 primaries, and using exit poll data from the 1988 Super Tuesday primaries, we show that issues, as policy priorities, do matter in presidential primary elections. This research also implies that primary campaigns matter, since information concerning the policy priorities of the candidates reaches the intended audience.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemWorking Paper
Alvarez, R. Michael0000-0002-8113-4451
Additional Information:© 1994 Plenum Publishing Corporation. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, IL, April 1992.
Issue or Number:3
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170829-085814214
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Aldrich, J.H. & Alvarez, R.M. Polit Behav (1994) 16: 289.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:80891
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:30 Aug 2017 17:56
Last Modified:15 Nov 2021 19:39

Repository Staff Only: item control page