Date of Award

Summer 8-1-2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Sean Richey

Second Advisor

Jason Reifler

Third Advisor

Sarah Gershon

Abstract

During campaigns, voters often learn that their party's candidate advocates policy positions that conflict with their own attitudes. These cross-pressured voters can either adjust their policy positions to be consonant with their party's candidate or voting for others. I use monthly NES Panel Data from 2008-2009 to examine how voters' beliefs change about a specific policy: the redistribution of wealth through progressive taxation during a presidential campaign. I test this by creating a Random Effects Ordered Probit Panel regression model of ten monthly waves of survey data before the 2008 presidential election. The study shows that over the campaign, voters' policy positions evolve on redistributive taxation policy; voters adjust their prior policy cognitive dissonance to be in agreement with their candidate. The results indicate that in the 2008 Presidential election, the electorate more often moved their policy beliefs to be in agreement with their candidate, rather than switch votes.

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