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The Persuadable Voter:
Wedge Issues in Presidential Campaigns
D. Sunshine Hillygus & Todd G. Shields

Winner of the 2009 Robert E. Lane Award for the Best Book in Political Psychology in 2008, Political Psychology Section of the American Political Science Association

Paperback | 2009 | $35.00 | £27.95 | ISBN: 9780691143361
272 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 21 line illus. 17 tables.
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The use of wedge issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and immigration has become standard political strategy in contemporary presidential campaigns. Why do candidates use such divisive appeals? Who in the electorate is persuaded by these controversial issues? And what are the consequences for American democracy? In this provocative and engaging analysis of presidential campaigns, Sunshine Hillygus and Todd Shields identify the types of citizens responsive to campaign information, the reasons they are responsive, and the tactics candidates use to sway these pivotal voters. The Persuadable Voter shows how emerging information technologies have changed the way candidates communicate, who they target, and what issues they talk about. As Hillygus and Shields explore the complex relationships between candidates, voters, and technology, they reveal potentially troubling results for political equality and democratic governance.

The Persuadable Voter examines recent and historical campaigns using a wealth of data from national surveys, experimental research, campaign advertising, archival work, and interviews with campaign practitioners. With its rigorous multimethod approach and broad theoretical perspective, the book offers a timely and thorough understanding of voter decision making, candidate strategy, and the dynamics of presidential campaigns.


"[P]ath-breaking. . . . The authors' novel approach to identifying both persuadable voters and effective micro-targeting techniques provides the most powerful evidence for their argument. The Persuadable Voter reminds us that, overall, the outcome of elections and the face of politics hinge on the ability of parties, candidates, and voters to adapt to each other and to the changing nature of political appeals."--David A. M. Peterson, Science

"In their outstanding study, Hillygus and Shields take what appears to be a singular topic--how wedge issues affect presidential campaigns--and fully develop a theoretical and empirical analysis of presidential campaigns, voting behavior, electoral strategies, and message framing. . . This work alone should expand the field of research on campaigns, elections, and voter behavior to new areas."--J. Michael Bitzer, Choice

"The Persuadable Voter is clearly a well researched book, with sound arguments and complex methodologies to back these arguments up."--Mark Rice, In-Spire, Journal of Law, Politics and Societies

"Written in an accessible style, The Persuadable Voter is an engaging reading, especially distinguishing itself in clarity and the high currency of the themes examined. It is certain to benefit the general public as well as a specialized audience, political and social scientists, journalists and politicians alike."--Adriana-Cecilia Neagu, ABC Journal

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Table of Contents:

List of Illustrations ix
List of Tables xi
Acknowledgments xiii
Chapter One: Wedge Issues in Presidential Campaigns 1
Chapter Two: The Reciprocal Campaign 18
Chapter Three: Measuring the Persuadable Partisan 49
Chapter Four: Capturing Campaign Persuasion 82
Chapter Five: The Republican Southern Strategy: A Case Study of the Reciprocal Campaign 107
Chapter Six: Candidate Strategy in the 2004 Campaign 145
Chapter Seven: Conclusions: Consequences for Democratic Governance 183
Appendix 1: Question Wording and Coding 205
Appendix 2: Content Analysis Coding 214
Appendix 3: Statistical Results 216
Bibliography 223
Index 237


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