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Issue Engagement in Election Campaigns The Impact of Electoral Incentives and Organizational Constraints*

  • Thomas M. Meyer and Markus Wagner
Abstract

It is easier for voters to make informed electoral choices when parties talk about the same issues. Yet, parties may decide against such “issue engagement.” We hypothesize that issue engagement between parties is more likely (a) when the similarity of their policy positions means that both parties have clear electoral incentives to talk about the same topics and (b) when parties face few organizational constraints in terms of campaign resources. Our empirical analysis of 2453 press releases by Austrian parties shows that ideological proximity and party resources affect the level of issue engagement. These findings suggest that issue engagement is less likely precisely where it is needed most, which has important implications for understanding the democratic quality of election campaigns.

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Thomas M. Meyer, Assistant Professor, Department of Government, University of Vienna, Rooseveltplatz 3, Vienna (thomas.meyer@univie.ac.at). Markus Wagner, Assistant Professor, Department of Methods in the Social Sciences, Unversity of Vienna, Rathausstraße 19, Vienna (markus.wagner@univie.ac.at). To view supplementary materials for this article, please visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/psrm.2015.40

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