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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Issues and Parties

Our chapter on political parties mentions each party's distinctive issue emphases. At the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Brian K. Arbour has added to our knowledge of this topic with a paper titled, " Issue Ownership, District Partisanship and the Use of Issue Frames."
Political scientists have examined campaign rhetoric from the perspective of what issues campaigns place on the agenda. In this paper, I examine how campaigns talk about issue, assessing the frames used for particular issues in television advertisements aired by House and Senate campaigns. I find that campaigns are willing to trespass onto the issue ground owned by the opposing party, but do so by using frames which invoke traditional themes for their party. In addition, I find that the partisanship of voters plays an important role in influencing what frames a campaign uses. I also test the relationship between district demography and the use of issue frames, but find few, if any, patterns. My results show the importance of moving beyond examining just issue use and studying issue content. In addition, they show that in addition to issues, political parties also seem to own particular issue frames.