The Cross-Pressured Citizen in the 2012 Presidential Campaign: Formative Factors and Media Choice Behavior

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cross-pressures, media choice, partisanship, presidential campaigns

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The cross-pressured citizen—a person who affiliates with one political party but plans to vote for the nominee of another—embodies the complicated nature of political decision making. Enduring considerable scrutiny since the pioneering campaign studies of the 1940s and 1950s, the role of the cross-pressured partisan in a presidential election campaign is still not fully understood by scholars. First, this study explores who the cross-pressured partisan was in the 2012 presidential campaign by examining the formative factors that influenced the likelihood of prospective defection from one's "home" party. Second, we explain how cross-pressured citizens behaved when seeking out news media compared to their consistent counterparts. Using national survey data collected at the midpoint of the 2012 campaign, we find that approval of President Barack Obama was a critical factor in understanding cross-pressured partisanship. Furthermore, cross-pressured Republicans were significantly less likely to attend to conservative cable programming compared to consistent Republicans. The results present a compelling extension of over seven decades of work examining the cross-pressured citizen.

Citation / Publisher Attribution

American Behavioral Scientist, v. 58, issue 9, p. 1214-1235.