Changing the Clock: The Role of Campaigns in the Timing of Vote Decision

Research paper by Henderson, M, Hillygus, D. S.

Indexed on: 09 Sep '16Published on: 02 Sep '16Published in: Public opinion quarterly


Time of vote decision research has shaped our understanding of the nature and influence of campaigns. Traditionally, time of decision has been viewed primarily as a reflection of individual-level characteristics, especially political interest or attentiveness. We use eight waves of panel survey data to evaluate how campaign context interacts with attentiveness to affect time of decision in the 2008 US presidential election. Our data show that less politically interested respondents living in locations where campaigning was most intense made up their minds earlier than those living elsewhere, but there is no such difference among the most interested. Rather than time of decision simply constraining campaign effects, these results suggest that campaigns structure the time of decision.