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How Elections Change the Way Citizens View the Political System: Campaigns, Media Effects and Electoral Outcomes in Comparative Perspective

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 August 2003

Department of Political Science, University of Twente.
Department of Political Science, University of Twente.


Attitudes towards the political system have often been assumed to be stable attributes that are not easily influenced by short-term forces. We examine the extent to which attention to media coverage, campaign activity and electoral outcomes can mobilize support for the political system in the context of an election campaign. Using pre-election and post-election survey panels from the United States, Britain and New Zealand, we find only small shifts in aggregate measures of system support. However, we find that there are significant shifts in system support at the individual level that can be explained by status as election winners, attention to the media, particularly serious news coverage and economic perceptions. The results have implications for the debate over measures of system support such as trust, cynicism and efficacy.

Research Article
© 2003 Cambridge University Press

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