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Alex C. H. Chang, Assistant Research Fellow, Institute of Political Science, Academia Sinica.
Party Identification, Negative Information, and Voting Choices: An Empirical Analysis of Municipal Mayoral Election in 2010 (in Chinese) Download
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In modern electoral campaign, especially that in most single member districts, negative campaigning has become a popular strategy for most candidates. They broadcast negative information about their opponents in order to discourage their supporters and hence garner, if any, electoral advantage and maximize chances of election. Despite its prevalence, scholars still have not achieved an agreement on whether negative campaign is determinant to voting behavior. Especially, while statistics shows that receiving negative information is negatively associated with voting decisions, we found that interviewees generally asserted that the messages did not affect their voting decisions at all. To solve the self-contradictory puzzle, following conventional wisdom, we assert that voters apply party identification as a shortcut to sift political information. Thus, they ignore the negative information about their preferred candidate but reinforce their detestation of the candidates they do not like. We further examine our theory by incorporating the TEDS2010C data with structural equation model. The analytical result supports our hypotheses and shows that voters' party identity and voting decision significantly influence the negative information they received. Nevertheless, the negative information does not have significant influence on voters' voting decisions.