Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Impact Of Terror Warnings On Presidential Race

Date:
October 2, 2008
Source:
University of California - Berkeley
Summary:
Contrary to earlier studies that found that the threat of terrorism favors conservative leaders, a new national field study shows that government-issued terror warnings may reduce support for Sen. John McCain among moderates or swing voters in the race for the White House.

Presidential candidates who play up the threat of terrorism to bolster votes may want to rethink their game plan. New research from the University of California, Berkeley, indicates the war on terror has less impact on presidential popularity than it did during President Bush's first term.

Related Articles


Contrary to earlier studies that found that the threat of terrorism favors conservative leaders, a new national field study conducted by UC Berkeley sociologists Robb Willer and Nick Adams shows that terror warnings delivered by such government agencies as the Department of Homeland Security may reduce support for Sen. John McCain among moderates or swing voters.

While the survey shows that terror alerts have little, if any, influence on how self-described conservatives and liberals cast their ballots, politically moderate voters or swing voters are less likely to vote for McCain in the face of an imminent terror threat, according to a report on the survey published this week in the journal Current Research in Social Psychology.

"Most past research led us to expect that terror threats would increase support for conservatives," said Willer, lead author of the study and assistant professor of sociology at UC Berkeley. "But discontent with Bush's approach to the war on terror could be impacting views of McCain."

And, the survey found, while the war in Iraq still ranks as a major concern, the economy is a greater priority than the "war on terror."

The survey is a follow-up to Willer's earlier study at Cornell University in which he tracked 131 Gallup polls between 2001 and 2004 and found that each government-issued terror alert prompted an increase the following week in President Bush's approval rating.

To test the effect of the threat of terrorism on the presidential election, Willer and Adams designed an Internet-based survey experiment funded by a National Science Foundation program for large-scale field experiments. The survey was conducted by the media research firm Knowledge Networks in late May and early June with a nationally representative group of 1,282 Americans. Of the total sample, 36 percent identified themselves as conservative; 40 percent as moderate and 24 percent as liberal.

Respondents first were divided into a control group and a "threat-exposed" group and asked to rate various journalistic accounts based on their newsworthiness and importance. Both groups evaluated two articles about social welfare policy and health technology, but the "threat-exposed" group rated an additional article, adapted from The New York Times, which warned of a possible Al Quaeda attack on the United States.

Respondents were then asked whom they planned to support in the 2008 election and to what degree they favored President Bush.

For political moderates, exposure to the Al Quaeda attack article led to an 11 percent drop in their support for McCain. With just weeks until the Nov. 4 election, recent polls show that the race for the president is very close and that both campaigns are heavily courting moderate swing voters.

"A variety of studies conducted during Bush's first term showed that terror concerns led to greater support for the Bush presidency," Willer said. "Now, however, growing evidence suggests that many, possibly even most, Americans may prefer a new approach to combating terrorism."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Berkeley. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California - Berkeley. "Impact Of Terror Warnings On Presidential Race." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 October 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081002092858.htm>.
University of California - Berkeley. (2008, October 2). Impact Of Terror Warnings On Presidential Race. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081002092858.htm
University of California - Berkeley. "Impact Of Terror Warnings On Presidential Race." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081002092858.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Science & Society News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Police Swoop on 80 Airports in Global Ticket Fraud Crackdown

Police Swoop on 80 Airports in Global Ticket Fraud Crackdown

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) Police have arrested 118 people in an unprecedented globally-coordinated swoop on plane ticket credit card fraud, a billion-dollar organised crime industry, officials said Friday. Duration: 01:03 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

AFP (Nov. 27, 2014) The Ebola epidemic sweeping Sierra Leone is having a profound effect on the country's children, many of whom have been left without any family members to support them. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
EU Pushes Google For Worldwide Right To Be Forgotten

EU Pushes Google For Worldwide Right To Be Forgotten

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) Privacy regulators recommend Google expand its requested removals to apply to all its web domains. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Who Will Failed Nuclear Talks Hurt Most?

Who Will Failed Nuclear Talks Hurt Most?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) With no immediate prospect of sanctions relief for Iran, and no solid progress in negotiations with the West over the country's nuclear programme, Ciara Lee asks why talks have still not produced results and what a resolution would mean for both parties. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins