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The "L-word" and the 1988 presidential general election campaign : the effects of symbolic value issues on vote choice

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The "L-word" and the 1988 presidential general election campaign : the effects of symbolic value issues on vote choice
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Herness, Shaun Patrick Richard
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Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1996.
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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 204-213).
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Typescript.
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Vita.
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by Shaun Patrick Richard Herness.

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Full Text
THE "L-WORD" AND THE 1988 PRESIDENTIAL GENERAL ELECTION
CAMPAIGN: THE EFFECTS OF SYMBOLIC VALUE ISSUES ON VOTE CHOICE
By
SHAUN PATRICK RICHARD FERNESS
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
1996


Copyright 1996
by
Shaun Patrick Richard Herness


I'm going to be the champion of ethnic America. And do you know why? It's because of the
values, not where you were born.
George Bush, May 27, 1988
/ didn't realize all these things when I said I was for Dukakis. He's a liberal.
Focus group participant, May 1988
Michael Dukakis on crime is the standard old-style sixties liberalism he has steadfastly
opposed the death penalty ... he has supported the only state program in the whole country, the
first one. that gives unsupervised weekend furloughs to first degree murderers!
George Bush, June 9, 1988
There's a wide chasm on the question of values between me and the liberal governor whom I'm
running against.
George Bush, August 1988
When a person goes into that voting booth, they're going to say, who has the values I believe in?
George Bush, September 25, 1988
I'm not (the) big 'L-word' candidate. I'm more in tune with the mainstream.
George Bush, October 15, 1988
Little kids in school have to be taught things. One of them is that there are a lot of good
people who died for this country. You've got to remember your past or you won't have
a country anymore.
Joseph Stinson, blue collar worker,
in reference to the Pledge issue, 1988
I was strongly for Dukakis . but I've reneged on my support for him. I don't go along
with his positions on the Pledge of Allegiance, abortion, drugs, and prison release.
Bob Willmoth, a Texas teacher, 1988
Yes. I'm a liberal!
Michael S. Dukakis, October 30, 1988


This dissertation is dedicated to my parents, Frank and Marlene Herness, without whose
support and encouragement my academic goals would never have been realized Your
patience, understanding, generosity, and love are greatly appreciated.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The successful completion of this project and the requirements for the conferring
of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy would not have been possible without the help and
assistance of a unique group of people who deserve special recognition.
In any graduate student's life, his or her supervisory committee plays an integral
role in the development and successful execution of the dissertation. In my case, I was
fortunate to have exceptional committee members who worked to assure that my
contribution to the literature was sound, cogent, and rigorous. My committee chair
Walter A. Rosenbaum and M. Margaret Conway provided outstanding guidance and
valuable constructive criticism in all stages of the project. I am particularly grateful to
Professor Rosenbaum for his willingness to assume the responsibilities associated with the
tasks of committee chair and his enthusiastic advocacy of my candidacy. Wayne L.
Francis, the department's resident methodologist, can take credit for instilling in me the
statistical knowledge required to complete the research. Similarly, Michael D. Martinez
became a valuable resource in regard to certain statistical applications and social
psychological models relevant to the research. James W. Button, an expert concerning the
effects of race and gender on politics, was particularly helpful in organizing my thoughts
and arguments with regard to the issue of crime and its effects on race and gender voting
in the 1988 presidential general election campaign. My external committee member,
Ronald P. Formisano, provided helpful insights on Massachusetts politics. I am personally
grateful for his willingness to contact his friend, John Blydenburgh of Clark University,
who generously shared survey data on the 1978 Massachusetts gubernatorial campaign.


Chris Arterton, the Dean of The George Washington University Graduate School
of Political Management, deserves special recognition for his enthusiastic willingness to
take an active interest in the project. For his counsel and friendship I am most grateful.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the contribution of former
Massachusetts Governor Edward J. King who availed himself on numerous occasions to
my torrent of questions regarding the 1978 Massachusetts gubernatorial campaign. It was
through my association and discussions with Governor King that I initially developed the
idea to pursue the topic of this dissertation.
My teaching assistant, Scott A Boyer, deserves special recognition for his
willingness not only to ease my classroom pressures when deadlines were imminent, but
for serving as an editor of the manuscript. His reliability, thoroughness, dependability, and
friendship are greatly appreciated.
As in any significant life endeavor, certain friends have played a vital part in this
project's successful realization. Specifically, my political mentor and fellow Catholic
University alumnus Mark Healey Rayder, my academic and philosophic contemporary and
fellow Georgetown University alumnus Dean M. Carignan, and my ideological counter
balance and fellow George Washington University alumnus Jane Hatch deserve
recognition for their willingness to provide constructive criticism, encouragement, and
moral support sometimes, as was the case with Dean, from half-way around the world in
Jakarta, Indonesia. My fellow graduate colleagues, Elizabeth Williams and Scott
Richards, also deserve acknowledgment for their kind advice and assistance throughout
my studies at the University of Florida. Both were an information asset second to none!
I would also like to acknowledge the Inter-university Consortium for Political and
Social Research (ICPSR) located in Ann Arbor, Michigan for providing the ABC
News Washington Post and CBS News New York Times survey data used in this research.
VI


TABLE OF CONTENTS
page
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS v
ABSTRACT x
INTRODUCTION 1
THE THEORY OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS 5
The Importance of Rational Choice Theory and the Theory of
Cognitive Heuristics to the Development of the Theory of Symbolic Politics ... 5
Symbolic Politics Theory 8
Affective Predispositions 11
POLITICAL SCHEMAS: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE THEORY OF
SYMBOLIC POLITICS 16
VALUES AND THEIR EFFECT ON AMERICAN POLITICS 21
VALUES AND THE "L-WORD,": THE DENIGRATION OF LIBERALISM 27
Classical Liberalism 28
Practical Liberalism 31
Modern Liberalism 35
American Political Culture Values and Modern Liberalism:
A Fundamental Problem for the Democratic Party 44
Values and Ideology: Is There a Connection'. 48
Value Issues in Other Political Contexts: The 1992 Presidential Campaign 49
Value Issues and the 1988 Presidential General Election Campaign 51
RESEARCH ON THE 1988 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
54


page
THE 1988 PRESIDENTIAL GENERAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN:
THE GENESIS OF THE REPUBLICAN STRATEGY 58
The 1978 Massachusetts Democratic Gubernatorial
Primary Campaign: A King Dethrones the Duke 60
The "Negative Cluster": The Republicans Find Their Silver Bullets 69
The Psychology of the Republican Strategy 72
HYPOTHESES, DATA SOURCES, AND METHODOLOGY 75
I lypotheses 75
Data Sources and Methodology 81
The Problem of Multicollinearity 85
Can Voters Accurately Report the Reasons for Their Behavior9
The Controversy Concerning Voluntary Recall Measures 86
LONGITUDINAL DATA ANALYSIS: MEASURING CHANGES IN
VOTER PERCEPTIONS OF MICHAEL S. DUKAKIS 92
July 1988 92
August 1988 102
September and October 1988 105
Discussion 111
ANALYSIS MEASURING THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE
"NEGATIVE CLUSTER" ISSUES ON VOTE CHOICE 121
Results 122
Discussion 135
THE EFFECTS OF OTHER VARIABLES ON VOTE CHOICE:
DID EXPERIENCE, THE ECONOMY, TAXES, AND NATIONAL
DEFENSE MATTER9 138
Results 139
Discussion 154
viii


page
THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE AND THE REPUBLICAN
STRATEGY: THE EFFECTS OF SYMBOLIC VALUE ISSUES IN
LARGE ELECTORAL STATES 156
C alifornia 160
Illinois 171
Maryland 172
Michigan 174
New Jersey 176
Ohio 177
Pennsylvania 179
Texas 181
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS 184
Reagan, Now Bush, Democrats 191
Gender: Women Dump the Duke1 192
APPENDIX 195
BIBLIOGRAPHY 204
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 214
IX


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the
Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for
the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
THE "L-WORD" AND THE 1988 PRESIDENTIAL GENERAL ELECTION
CAMPAIGN: THE EFFECTS OF SYMBOLIC VALUE ISSUES ON VOTE CHOICE
By
Shaun Patrick Richard Hemess
May 1996
Chairperson: Dr Walter A. Rosenbaum
Major Department. Political Science
In deliberating on the cognitive processes citizens engage when making their
choices at the ballot box, voting behavior scholars have often focused their research on
rational factors such as partisanship, assessment of economic performance, and issue
specifics Often neglected by scholars in their research is the impact of non-rational
factors, such as emotions and values, on vote choice. As Jean Bethke Elshtain observes,
"For a complex set of reasons, analysts have relegated 'values' issues to a secondary and
suspect statusseen as a way to draw attention away from 'real' issues. . But does this
distinction, with its underlying assumption that symbolic and values questions are
somehow less real than specific, limited policy matters make sense9"
The current research is based on three elements: the theory of symbolic politics, an
explanation of information processing developed in social psychology known as schema
theory, and shared values understood in the context of American political culture. The
theoretical basis for this research provides the foundation to analyze the 1988 presidential
general election to assess the impact of specific symbolic value issues on both vote choice


and voters' perceptions of Democratic candidate, Massachusetts Governor Michael S.
Dukakis. Central to the discussion is the campaign conducted by Republican candidate
Vice President George Bush. The Bush campaign used symbolic value issues in an
attempt to label Dukakis as a "liberal." Using individual level survey data, a longitudinal
analysis is created to demonstrate the effectiveness of Bush's ideologically based symbolic
issues campaign on influencing voter perceptions of Governor Dukakis. In addition, exit
poll surveys are analyzed to assess the extent to which certain emotional, symbolic social
and cultural value issues employed by Bush affected voting choices, particularly among
specific segments of the electorate judged by Republican strategists to be strategically
important to the vice president's success.
The findings suggest that non-rational factors, such as symbolic values, must be
considered as important elements in the decision-making calculus of voters.
XI


INTRODUCTION
In attempting to understand what factors influence how voters make their electoral
choices, many voting behavior scholars have focused their research on rational criteria
such as partisanship, retrospective and prospective analyses of economic performance, and
issue specifics. Often neglected in voting behavior research is how non-rational factors,
particularly emotions, affect the choices citizens make at the ballot box. Lyn Ragsdale, a
pioneer in research concerning emotional effects on voter decision-making, concludes in
her study on emotional responses to presidents that "emotions, more consistently than
issues, events, or conditions, affect the strength of individuals' approval and vote choice"
(Ragsdale 1991, 58)
Pamela Johnston Conover and Stanley Feldman echo Ragsdale's findings in their
research concerning emotional reactions to the economy. Conover and Feldman found
similar correlations between emotions and political evaluations:
Consistently, we found that emotions have a significant and strong impact on
political evaluations even when compared with the effects of the standard
cognitive variables. . Emotional reactions to an issue provide an indication
of what people think about issues and potentially shape how people process
information about issues. (Conover & Feldman 1986, 75)
Despite their efforts, little quantitative research within the academic community
has been undertaken to expand upon the findings. As Conover and Feldman observe,
"emotional responses to politics are a critical aspect of political behavior that has been
neglected in previous research" (Conover & Feldman 1986, 75).
1


2
Outside the academic environment, political professionals have long recognized the
importance of emotions on influencing vote choice and voters' perceptions of candidates.
Richard Wirthlin, pollster to former president Ronald Reagan, once remarked:
You move people's votes through emotion, and the best way to give an
emotional cut to your message is through talking about values. (White 1989, 152)
If we accept the premise of Wirthlin's argument, then to advance our
understanding of how emotions affect political behavior it is appropriate to measure the
effect values have on electoral choices and their influence on voters' perceptions of
candidates. Like emotions, values have received minimal theoretical attention from
political scientists. As Jean Bethke Elshtain observes:
For a complex set of reasons, analysts have relegated "values" issues
to a secondary and suspect statusseen as a way to draw attention away
from "real" issues. But does this distinction, with its underlying assumption
that symbolic and values questions are somehow less real than specific, limited
policy matters make sense9 (Elshtain 1989, 117)
Recently, a school of thought has evolved within the academic community which
contends that value issues are important factors in understanding political behavior.
Symbolic politics theory argues that symbols, when used in a political context, can evoke
certain conditioned and consistent evaluations, known as predispositions, which, when
stimulated, can influence individuals' voting behavior. Some scholars claim that value-
based predispositions are the most potent influences on political behavior. John Zaller, for
example, argues that "values seem to have a stronger and more pervasive effect on mass
opinions than any other predispositional factors" (Zaller 1992, 23). If this is true, then it is
plausible that symbols which evoke certain value predispositions can exert a powerful
influence on voting behavior.
To examine the extent symbols that evoke certain value predispositions influence
voting behavior, it is appropriate to analyze instances in which symbolic value issues
played a prominent role in electoral politics. Political analysts and commentators have


3
often claimed that one of the reasons why Ronald Reagan and George Bush were elected
in the 1980s was because they effectively influenced certain segments of the electorate by
elevating to saliency status issues with distinct values appeals. In the case of Bush:
There has been considerable debate over the degree to which [value] themes
used by the Bush campaign affected the presidential election of 1988. . [P]olls
that tracked voter shifts through the campaign clearly suggest that the . .
social/moral/racial issues raised by the Bush campaign functioned to push
specific segments of the electorate toward the GOP. (Edsall & Edsall 1991, 225)
Martin Wattenberg observes that "rather than discussing what policies he would
pursue if elected in 1988, Bush focused on sensationalizing [symbolic value] issues that
were damaging to Dukakis" (M. Wattenberg 1995, 253). Political commentator and
columnist Ben Wattenberg opines that "perhaps the quintessential values issue candidacy
of our time was George Bush's in 1988" (B. Wattenberg 1995, 35). In this regard, the
1988 presidential general election provides an excellent laboratory in which to investigate
whether symbolic value issues are important factors in determining vote choice and
influencing voters' perceptions of the candidates. Issues imbued with symbolic meaning
reflective of widely shared American political and cultural values, such as the Pledge of
Allegiance, the death penalty, prison furloughs, a strong national defense, taxes, and the
value connotations associated with the label "liberal," played a major role in the dialogue
of the 1988 campaign.
Despite a post election report by the Gallop organization in which they concluded
that "the success of the Bush campaign was based on making liberalism, the Pledge of
Allegiance, and the prison furlough controversies salient," little quantitative research has
been conducted measuring the effect symbolic value issues had on voting behavior in 1988
(Abramson, Aldrich, & Rohde 1990, 52). As John Sullivan, Amy Fried, and Mary Dietz
observe:


4
It has subsequently become public knowledge that Bush's decision to
emphasize patriotism, defense, and the "Willie Horton" issue was shaped by
results of systematic focus group research. Scholarly investigations therefore
are needed to determine whether, as Bush's research suggested, these "hot
button" issues really did have a significant impact on voter behavior in 1988
(Sullivan, Fried, & Dietz 1992, 201)
It is the intent of this research to employ quantitative analysis techniques to
validate the contention that symbols which evoke certain value predispositions can exert a
powerful influence on voting behavior and voters' perceptions of political candidates. The
research will use data gathered during the 1988 presidential general election campaign to
determine whether Bush's use of symbolic "hot button" value issues (known as the
"negative cluster") had an impact on both voting behavior in 1988 and the electorate's
perceptions of Democratic candidate Michael S. Dukakis.


THE THEORY OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS
Introduction: The Importance of Rational Choice Theory and the Theory of
Cognitive Heuristics to the Development of the Theory of Symbolic Politics
The central theoretical foundation of the current research is symbolic politics
theory. When discussing symbolic politics theory it is important to note that two models
of voting behavior, formal rational choice theory and the theory of cognitive heuristics, are
important to the development of the theory itself Rational choice and cognitive heuristics
are important not because of the contributions each made to the formation of symbolic
politics theory, but for the omissions inherent in both which the theory of symbolic politics
attempts to address.
Rational choice theory argues that voters make purposive, goal seeking choices
based on their own preferences. Rational choice models assume that an individual is able
to rank alternatives from best to worst by having at his or her disposal all available
information to make an informed and deliberative decision. Based on their knowledge,
individuals assess their available options and choose those which they expect will best
achieve their goals. In essence, voters engage in individual cost benefit analyses making
decisions based on which alternatives provide the maximum utility for the least cost. As
Anthony Downs, the forerunner of modern formal theory, states, "a rational man always
takes the one [decision] which yields him the highest utility ceteris paribus, i.e he acts to
his own greatest benefit" (Downs 1957, 36-37).
A fundamental problem with the rational choice method is that it assumes that
decision makers, in this case voters, have complete and perfect information to make a well
5


6
reasoned, deliberative choice. In contemporary society rich with voluminous information
sources it is a near impossible task for everyone to have knowledge of everything dealing
with every topic in which a decision must be rendered. Despite his association with formal
theory, Down's observation that "voters are not always aware of what the government is
or could be doing, and often they do not know the relationship between government
actions and their own utility incomes," sets the stage for the development of a second
model of political decision-making which presumes that voters do not have complete and
perfect information to make rational political decisions (Downs 1957, 77-81).
In the decision-making process the public does not suffer from a lack of access to
information to make a deliberative decision. Instead, assuming that the public cannot
possibly have total and complete information on all matters political, the problem is
understanding how the public makes political decisions from its incomplete and limited
knowledge of politics. This leads to a second problem, how does the public assimilate
what information it does possess to make political choices? This dilemma, known as
Simon's puzzle in recognition of Herbert Simon's research on decision-making based on
limited information and processing capacity, has given rise to a second school of thought
which argues that voters use information shortcuts known as "cognitive heuristics" to
reach political decisions. According to Paul Sniderman, Richard Brody, and Philip
Tetlock:
Citizens frequently can compensate for their limited information about politics
by taking advantage of judgmental heuristics. Heuristics are judgmental
shortcuts, efficient ways to organize and simplify political choices, efficient
in the double sense of requiring relatively little information to execute, yet
yielding dependable answers even to complex problems of choice. . Insofar
as they can be brought into play, people can be knowledgeable m their
reasonmg about political choices without necessarily possessing a large
body of knowledge about politics. (Sniderman, Brody, & Tetlock 1991, 19)
Samuel Popkin refers to the type of reasoning described by Sniderman et al. as
"low information rationality." According to Popkin:


7
[Low information rationality] is a method of combining, in an
economical way, learning and information from past experiences,
daily life, the media, and political campaigns. This reasonmg draws
on various information shortcuts and rules of thumb that voters use
to obtain and evaluate information and to simplify the process of
choosing between candidates. People use shortcuts which incorporate
much political information; they triangulate and validate their opinions
in conversations with people they trust and according to opinions of
national figures whose judgments and positions they have come to
know. With these shortcuts, they leam to "read" politicians and their
positions. (Popkin 1991, 7)
Therefore, the theory of cognitive heuristics argues that voters engage in a degree
of rational decision-making based not on complete and perfect information but shortcuts
which are the by-products of information gathered from everyday experiences and
activities as parent, consumer, neighbor, and employee. These shortcuts provide an
economical, efficient, and simple way for voters to gather and process enough information
to make reasoned choices.
John Zaller echoes Sniderman's and Popkin's premise that voters have limited
information when confronted with the need to make political decisions. Zaller argues that
people vary in their habitual attention to politics which in turn affects their exposure to
political information. Therefore, the level and extent of a person's knowledge of and
exposure to political affairs affects their ability to react critically to political arguments.
Because citizens do not have fixed attitudes on every political issue, they construct
opinions on the fly as they confront each new issue, making use of ideas that are most
immediately salient to them. In other words, voters construct opinion statements from
information that is at "the top of the head" (Zaller 1992, 1).
Where Zaller departs from Popkin, Sniderman, and other cognitive heuristic
theorists is his assertion that in making political decisions "[voters] possess a variety of
interests, values, and experiences that may greatly affect their willingness to acceptor
alternatively, their resolve to resistpersuasive influences" (Zaller 1992, 22). In Zaller's
words:


8
. I refer to these factors [interests, values, and experiences]
as political predispositions, by which I mean stable, individual-level
traits that regulate the acceptance or non-acceptance of the political
communication the person receives. Because the totality of the
communication that one accepts determines one's opinions,
predispositions are the critical intervening variable between the
communications people encounter in the mass media, on the one side,
and their statements of political preference, on the other. (Zaller 1992, 22-23)
Both the rational choice and cognitive heuristic approaches to decision-making
emphasize citizens' abilities to process varying degrees of information to reach political
decisions. Rational choice theorists depict the voter as a deliberative decision-maker
objectively evaluating cost and benefits from a complete and perfect set of information.
Cognitive heuristic theorists see voters as engaging in rational deliberation but because of
an inability to consume and process all available information they take shortcuts to
complete their gaps in knowledge. What both the rational choice and cognitive heuristic
approaches fail to address is the view that individuals respond affectively on the basis of
long-held anachronistic predispositions which elicit gut-level, emotional responses from
evocative political and social objects (Sears 1993, 137). This supposition is the basis for
another model of political decision-making known as the theory of symbolic politics
Symbolic Politics Theory
In order to understand symbolic politics theory it is important to first explain what
is a symbol. A symbol is any object used by human beings to index meanings that are not
inherent in, nor discernible from, the object itself (Elder & Cobb 1983, 28). A word,
phrase, event, gesture, person, place, or thing can be a symbol. As Elder and Cobb
observe, "An object becomes a symbol when people endow it with meaning, value, or
significance" (Elder & Cobb 1983, 29). Symbols can either be referential or
condensational. Referential symbols are notational devices which serve to uniquely
identify an object. A name, label, or sign that we use to designate someone or something


is a referential symbol. The symbol has no meaning or significance beyond the object to
which it refers.
9
Objects which people imbue with meaning that transcends any concrete entity or
operation that they may serve to reference is a condensational symbol. Condensational
symbols summarize experiences, feelings, and beliefs (Elder & Cobb 1983, 29). For
example, to most Americans our national flag is more than just tri-colored cloth. It is a
symbol representing the principles inherent in the American way of life: freedom, liberty,
individualism, and equality of opportunity. Condensational symbols underlie the theory of
symbolic politics.
The basic theory of symbolic politics postulates that symbols can evoke certain
conditioned and consistent evaluations, known as predispositions, which, when stimulated,
can influence individuals' political behavior Essential to symbolic politics theory is the
notion that these core predispositions are formed early in life and shape later formed
attitudes (Lau, Brown, & Sears 1978, Sears 1988, 1993, Sears & Citrin 1985; Sears &
Kinder 1970). As David O. Sears, a researcher in political psychology, describes, the
theory of symbolic politics holds that:
People acquire stable affective responses to particular symbols
through a process of classic conditioning, which occurs most crucially
at a relatively early age. These learned dispositions may or may not
persist through adult life, but the strongest, called "symbolic predispositions,"
do. The most important of these predispositions in American politics include
party identification, political ideology, and racial prejudice. (Sears 1993, 120)
The current theory of symbolic politics evolved from two primary sources: Murray
Edelman's theory that the public is an unpredictable mass vulnerable to emotional appeals
by organized elites, and the social-psychological model of political behavior developed by
researchers at the University of Michigan which postulates that voters respond in a more
rational way to new, relevant political information incorporating such information into
already held long-term social-psychological predispositions.


In his seminal study. The Symbolic Uses of Politics, Edelman argued that the
mass public is largely disengaged from politics, concerned and anxious only about a
10
threatening and complex world As such the public is relatively uninformed about political
issues and unpredictable in its actions. However, when the public becomes threatened,
organized elites manipulate ordinary citizens by using a host of emotional metaphors,
myths, rituals, language, and other symbols which both reassures the public while
promoting the interests of the elites themselves (Edelman 1964). In Edelman's view "mass
publics consist largely of spectators acquiescent to the abstract and remote parade of
political symbols" (Sears 1993, 117).
In his discussion Edelman identifies three forms of value structuring that he argues
determines the degree of societal consensus or division which in turn influences the
susceptibility of the mass populace to political symbolism. In a unimodal structuring the
dispersion of values on one issue will often correspond in some measure with the
dispersion on other strong issues. As an example, in the United States, Edelman claims,
there is general agreement against restrictions on economic activity and opposition to a
conciliatory posture toward Communism. The extent that such overlap exists on such
issues serves to reinforce deep-seated cleavage or consensus (Edelman 1964, 175). A
unimodal structuring creates little tension because, for the most part, the public is in
complete agreement on the general policy direction of the state.
A bimodal structuring is just the opposite. Insecurity and threat are maximized by
emotional issues which cause division among the populace. Those who hold the opposing
position on the issue or issues dividing the populace are considered the enemy. Under this
"us versus them" value structuring, mass responses are most vulnerable to manipulation by
elite use of "condensational" symbols. A bimodal values structuring creates such tension
and anxiety among the mass public that rational responses are held to a minimum and
symbolic cues and assurances are avidly sought out and grasped (Edelman 1964, 177).


11
Finally, a multimodal structure describes when the populace sees merit in
alternative sides of an issue or issues. Rather than irrational fear, a search for synthesis
occurs. Alternative possibilities can be explored and the politics of pluralism recognized
In an environment devoid of fear and anxiety, the political use of symbolism is relatively
ineffective
The social-psychological model of political behavior proposed by Angus Campbell
and his colleagues at the University of Michigan focuses on the mediating role of long
term social-psychological predispositions in guiding citizen action (Dalton & Wattenberg
1993, 197). In their view long-term social-psychological predispositions such as party
identification, group association, ethnic prejudices, and humans' relative resistance to
change make voting generally predictable. When a person receives new political
information they incorporate that information in a systematic and internally relevant way
corresponding to their already held predispositions (Sears 1993, 119).
The theory of symbolic politics incorporates components of both Edelman's
research and the Michigan model of political behavior by focusing on the role of symbols
in manipulating the public through stimulating learned affective responses or
predispositions.
Affective Predispositions
The central tenet of symbolic politics theory is that strongly held affective
predispositions are automatically stimulated by attitude objects with relevant symbolic
meaning. In other words, standing learned predispositions are evoked by political
symbols. The relevance of these predispositions is that when stimulated they can influence
peoples' political behavior. When discussing affective predispositions and their role in
political decision-making, there are four propositions which must be considered. The first
proposition is that affective predispositions can be identified using three criteria:


12
1) Of all the individual's attitudes, they are the most stable over time.
2) They produce the most consistent responses over similar attitude objects.
3) They are most influential over attitudes toward other objects.
The second proposition contends that symbolic predispositions are acquired
relatively early in life, presumably through conditioning-like processes, and that these
predispositions have strong affective components and little information content (Krosnick
1991). This early learning yields such predispositions as party identification, racial
prejudices, ethnic identities, basic values, nationalism, and attachment to various symbols
of the nation and regime.
The third proposition follows from the second in that predispositions which are
acquired early are believed to persist throughout life and unlike nonsymbolic attitudes are
thought to be resistant to persuasion.
The fourth proposition is that symbolic meaning influences evaluations of the
attitude object Therefore which affective predispositions are evoked by political symbols
is dependent on the perceived meaning of the symbols themselves. In the political arena
activist groups are constantly attempting to influence how people perceive an issue or
candidate. This activity, referred to as "framing," will be discussed in greater detail. At
this juncture suffice it to say that because of external influences the meaning of symbols
contained in an object can vary cross-sectionally among individuals at one point in time or
longitudinally within individuals over time. Variance in symbolic meaning, therefore, can
affect which predispositions are evoked.
For example, research conducted by Gamson and Modigiliani traced over time
changes in public evaluations of the issue of affirmative action. Their findings concluded
that public attitudes toward affirmative action depended on the affective predispositions
that were evoked:


13
"Remedial action" dominated in the 1960s and early 1970s, promoted
by civil rights advocates who contended that blacks needed to be given
extra help because past discrimination had handicapped them in economic
competition. This approach appealed to antiracist, egalitarian themes.
Over time, conservatives responded with a "no preferential treatment"
frame, arguing that affirmative action gave minorities preferential treatment;
this response appealed to the core American value of self-reliance. Finally,
during the 1980s the "reverse discrimination" frame, in which non-minorities
and males were depicted as discriminated against by affirmative action
policies, became dominant. This development continued the self-reliance
theme but added an appeal to egalitarianism. (Sears 1993, 128-129)
In addition to the four propositions describing affective predispositions Sears
argues that symbolic attitude objects create social and demographic cleavages in the
electorate, are highly salient in the political environment, retain stable meaning over time,
are frequently the center of political discussion, and are connected to a range of cognitive
elements in voters minds (Sears 1983). As a result symbolic politics theory has developed
a hierarchy of political attitude objects ranging from highly symbolic to nonsymbolic: (1)
political party identification, (2) liberal-conservative ideological orientation, (3) attitudes
toward social groups, (4) attitudes toward racial policy issues, (5) attitudes on nonracial
policy issues, and (6) attitudes regarding political efficacy and trust in government (Sears
1983).
Some aspects of this hierarchical ordering are unique to symbolic politics theory
and as such have not been universally accepted. Yet many political scientists have reached
consensus in accepting the argument that partisanship is the strongest and most consistent
political predisposition. Scholars have cited evidence to support their claims that party
identification is acquired early in life, usually inherited from parents, resistant to change,
and an influential factor in determining one's political choices throughout life (Campbell,
Converse, Miller, & Stokes 1960; Converse 1964; Converse & Markus 1979; Markus
1982).
However, not all scholars have embraced the rationale of symbolic politics theory.
Jon Krosnick, for example, contends that symbolic predispositions are more consistent


14
over time because the survey instruments that measure symbolic predispositions contain
less random measurement error, not because these attitudes, in and of themselves, are
more persistent Krosnick argues that the American National Election Panel Study
(ANES) survey questions used to assess symbolic attitudes are more likely to produce
highly reliable measures than questions that measure nonsymbolic attitudes because of the
scales used to measure responses (Krosnick 1991). Questions that measure the higher-
ordered attitudes on the symbolic politics hierarchical scale offer fewer response
alternatives (party identification and ideological orientation are usually coded using a
seven point scale) with wordings that facilitate clear understanding. The alternative
measure, the 100 point thermometer scale, only provides verbal labels for some points on
the scale and a calibration with many more alternatives from which respondents can
choose. Krosnick contends that increasing the number of response alternatives decreases
the reliability of the measure. Because the measures of highly symbolic attitudes employ
fewer response alternatives they are more reliable therefore more consistent across time.
Like Krosnick, Alexander Heard has been critical of symbolic theory. Unlike
Krosnick whose criticism is based mostly on methodological considerations, Heard's
criticism is directed at symbolic theory as a basis for explaining aspects of American
politics. In his discussion of party influence on political agendas Heard contends that the
dominance of special interest and issue activists in formulating party platforms "signals
that American politics is becoming more cognitive and less affective, more substantive and
less symbolic" (Heard 1991, 139). Heard acknowledges that "increasingly Democratic
conventions are ending up as contests between left and nonleft coalitions, and Republican
conventions as struggles between right and nonright coalitions" (Heard 1991, 138).
However, Heard fails to recognize that symbolic issues are often deliberately placed in
party platforms by the very ideologically-based issue activists that he acknowledges
dominate the contemporary presidential selection process. Partisan policy positions


15
concerning symbolic issues such as abortion, gun control, the death penalty, and taxes are
often focal points in the convention platforms of the major political parties


POLITICAL SCHEMAS:
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE THEORY OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS
The assertion that affective predispositions can be stimulated by political symbols
to affect voting behavior is closely related to what social psychologists have identified as
the ability to influence both individuals' cognitive knowledge structures and the complexity
level of their intellectual reasoning. Social psychologists refer to these influence-
susceptible cognitive knowledge structures as schemas. Schemas organize both memory
and cognition into specific thematic structures. When an individual obtains new
information, specific cognitive schemas filter, select, encode, and integrate it into new or
existing cognitive structures (Milburn 1991, 73).
Cognitive knowledge structures are central to schema theory (Rumelhart &
Norman 1983). As Ruth Hamill, Milton Lodge, and Frederick Blake explain:
The basic notion underlying this view of human information processing is
deceptively simpleone's prior knowledge about some domain influences
what one sees and remembers and how one interprets reality and guides
behavior. (Hamill, Lodge, & Blake 1985, 851)
Schema theory contends that received information is not simply stored as separate,
discrete facts, but organized into coherent "clusters" of new knowledge or assimilated into
"clusters" of already understandable knowledge. These "clusters" of knowledge, or
structures, provide a concordant body of comprehensive knowledge that makes new or
additional information meaningful. A knowledge structure can be ascribed to one of two
specific domains: declarative or associational. Declarative knowledge refers to factual
information which describes the attributes of some particular aspect of the world.
Associational knowledge refers to the network of interrelationships linking examples and
characteristics to schema concepts (Rosch 1975; Smith & Medin 1981, Rumelhart 1984).
16


It is these "clusters of knowledge organized by their specific reference domains that
permits systematic information processing According to Hamill, Lodge, and Blake:
17
It is this binding of declarative and associational knowledge within a coherent
memory structure that turns otherwise disjointed bits of information into
meaningful patterns of thought and accounts for systematic effects in human
information processing. (Hamill et al. 1985, 852)
Because knowledge structures affect how people process information they
influence the selection, abstraction, interpretation, and integration of new information
(Alba & Hasher 1983). The assumptions underlying schema theory embrace the base
tenet of cognitive heuristics that contends voters engage in information processing that
economizes political decision-making. Knowledge structures permit voters to take
shortcuts by providing them the means to selectively choose some stimuli while
disregarding others and to make decisions in the absence of full information (Nisbett &
Ross 1980; Taylor & Crocker 1981).
Taylor and Crocker identify a variety of cognition functions affected by social
schemas. Schemas, they argue, provide categories for labeling people, places, events, and
processes; influence what new information will be received, encoded, and retrieved from
memory; enable inferences to be made from incomplete data by bridging gaps in
information with best guesses; provide a scheme for problem solving, influence the degree
of importance assigned to evidence used in making decisions and predictions; and generate
expectations against which reality is compared and contrasted with one's own experiences.
Four different types of general knowledge structures or schemas have been
identified and developed in social psychology: person, self, role, and event (Fiske &
Taylor 1991). Person schemas contain knowledge and beliefs about typical people, their
characteristics, and their intentions; self-schemas include information about a person's own
appearance, behavior, and self-concept; role schemas hold knowledge about general social
classifications such as age, race, sex, or occupations, and event schemas contain
information about various life situations and experiences.


The Michigan model of political behavior was a vanguard attempt at applying
social-psychological principles to political science. However, more recently political
18
science scholars have begun to apply schema theory in their research and have identified a
variety of schemas important to understanding how individuals process political
information (Abelson 1979; Conover & Feldman 1984; Fiske, Kinder, & Larter 1983;
Lodge & Hamill 1983, Hamill et al 1985; Lau 1986). Richard R. Lau used responses to
ANES surveys to identify four different political schemas: issues, groups, personality, and
party (Lau 1986) In addition to Lau's four political schemas, Hamill, Lodge, and Blake
identify two additional cognitive knowledge structures that individuals might use to
process political information: a class schema (rich/poor) and an ideological schema
(liberal/conservative) (Hamill et al. 1985). Hamill et al. assert that the manner in which
new political information is schematically processed depends on the nature of issues
themselves. "Each of the three political schemas [class, partisan, ideological] is an
effective mechanism for structuring political information, although each differs in the type
of issues that can be processed" (Hamill et al. 1985, 867). They argue that the class
schema provides citizens with a mechanism to deal effectively with economic issues and
information Partisan and ideological schemas provide an effective cognitive framework
for dealing with more abstract noneconomic issues.
Whereas some political information environments are structurally simple and highly
person-centered, most are more complex, because people are exposed to information
about more than one political candidate at a time (e g., in a debate or a political
campaign). Scholarly research has attempted to determine if a more complex political
environment affects how people process political information:


19
When individuals receive information about only one person, it
is usually assumed that this information is organized into a person
category [schema], a knowledge structure stored in memory m which
the information about the target is connected to a single, superordinate
"person node ". . It is less clear that this person-based preference for
cognitive organization extends into multi-person settings; other
"organizing principles" may suggest themselves. (Rahn 1995, 46)
Wendy Rahn's research suggests that under more complex conditions, memory is
organized along the important attributes on which people compare candidates (e g.,
partisanship, policies, and personality), rather than organized around the candidates
themselves (Lodge & McGraw 1995, 5). The nature of the information structure or
schema to which people are exposed affects how that information is cognitively organized
"Person-focused structures facilitated candidate-based organization, while attribute-
focused structures encouraged an attributed-based organizational strategy" (Rahn 1995,
56).
The ability to influence individuals' schemas or cognitive knowledge structures of
candidates is often done in the context of "priming" and "framing." To engage in the act
of influencing a person's cognitive knowledge structure or schema is to engage in the act
of priming. To prime is to instruct or prepare someone or something beforehand. In the
psychological context, to prime someone would require the "presentation of an attitude
object(s) toward which the individual processes a strong evaluative association that would
automatically activate that evaluation" (Fazio 1989, 157).
The act of priming is often done through what is referred to as framing-
packaging ideas so that within each idea is embedded a dominant frame or viewpoint
(knowledge structure) which acts as a central organizing concept or story line (for new
information) implying a particular policy alternative (Sears 1993, 128). Influencing
cognitive knowledge structures through framing is central to symbolic politics theory.
According to David O Sears the manner in which symbolic issues are framed affects
which predispositions are stimulated:


20
The frame is displayed in "signature elements" that invoke the whole
package through condensing symbols. Which frame dominates in the
communications media may change overtune as the political battle goes
on The persuasive success of any given frame depends on the "cultural
resonances" or larger cultural themes it invokes. All this can be put in the
language of symbolic politics: each frame presents a different symbolic
meaning of the attitude object, including different symbolic elements, and
its relative success depends on the symbolic predispositions it evokes.
(Sears 1993, 128)
There are a variety of affective predispositions which can be stimulated by priming
and framing political symbols to influence individuals' cognitive knowledge structures or
schemas The current research is primarily concerned with value-based predispositions,
specifically those values that are associated with the American political culture and our
contemporary understanding of ideological orientations. Therefore, it is both appropriate
and necessary to first discuss what is meant by the term "values," and second, to address
the role of values within the context of American political culture and their influence on
ideological orientations, particularly as they relate to the contemporary meaning of
liberalism.


VALUES AND THEIR EFFECT ON AMERICAN POLITICS
"Values is a highly subjective term open to many interpretations. Many words
such as "orientations", "beliefs", or "principles" have been used interchangeably with the
word "values." In the context of this research values "refer to 'general and enduring'
standards that hold a 'more central position than attitudes' in individuals' belief systems"
(Kinder & Sears 1985, 674). It is our interpretation of these values that "lead us to take
particular positions on social issues" (Rokeach 1973, 13).
Ben Wattenberg, in his recent publication entitled Values Matter Most, subdivides
values into two separate and distinct categories: social issues and cultural issues.
Wattenberg claims that a fundamental difference exists between social and cultural value
issues. Wattenberg argues that social issues are generally "agreed to be both important
and harmful to society as a whole by a vast consensus of Americans" (B Wattenberg
1995, 17). Cultural issues, on the other hand, do not enjoy general universal agreement.
"There is often no consensus about them, that is, Americans often do not agree about
what to do about them" (B. Wattenberg 1995, 97-98). According to Wattenberg
patriotism, crime, welfare, and individual merit are reflective of social value issues The
vast majority of Americans love their country, agree that crime is terrible and wrong,
believe that the current welfare system is malfunctioning, and subscribe to the belief that
tangible reward should be based on hard work and educational achievement In
contradistinction to social value issues, Wattenberg argues that there is little agreement
among Americans on cultural value issues such as abortion, questions regarding sexual
lifestyles, pornography, sex education, and school prayer "There is often no consensus
because there is no agreement on the very nature of what they represent" (B Wattenberg
21


22
1995, 98). Despite these differences, Wattenberg contends that value issues exert a
tremendous influence on public opinion which in turn affects political behavior and
electoral outcomes
I suggest. that whichever political party, whichever political candidate,
is seen as best understanding and dealing with that values issue-will
be honored. Honored at the polls. Honored at the polls at national, state,
and, local levels. Honored at the polls in 1996 and, ... for a long time after
that (B Wattenberg 1995, 10-11)
Like Wattenberg, some scholars believe values have a strong influence on public
opinion, particularly in the realm of politics (White 1982, 1983, 1989; Zaller 1992). John
Zaller argues that values have a strong and pervasive effect on mass opinions (Zaller 1992,
23). In the context of American politics it is central to understand the role American
political culture plays in determining the effect certain values have on mass opinion 1 In
his discussion of political culture, Walter A. Rosenbaum argues that the behavior of large
masses is most affected and influenced by those "political cultural orientations that are
widely shared" (Rosenbaum 1975, 7). Political culture scholars have consistently
identified freedom, liberty, individualism, patriotism, and equality of opportunity as those
orientations, principles, or values that are widely shared in .American political culture
(Hartz 1955, Devine 1972; Rosenbaum 1975; Lipset 1979; McClosky & Zaller 1984).
Political strategists who attempt to use value issues to influence the electorate have
employed these widely shared value orientations to evoke both positive and negative
predispositions. Evidence of various kinds that alters the symbolic meaning of an issue
does indeed influence which predisposition it elicits (Sears 1993, 129). Therefore, the
1 Wattenberg's definition of cultural values is not synonymous with values inherent to the American
political culture. The values of the American political culture: freedom, liberty individualism, patriotism,
and equality of opportunity, are more closely associated with what Wattenberg terms social values. Both
social value issues, according to the Wattenberg definition, and the American political culture values are
characterized by a high degree of consensus as to their importance to society Social value issues such as
crime, welfare, and individual merit can often symbolize values associated w ith the American political
culture.


23
manner in which symbols are used by political operatives to influence value-based
predispositions affects what type of responses are elicited from the public.
John Kenneth White, a leader in qualitative values research, attempts in his
publication. The New Politics of Old Values, to explain how and why symbolic values
impact our electoral decisions. He argues that the politics of the 1980s was based
primarily on shared values appeals:
When the Republicans identified the themes of family, work,
neighborhood, peace, and freedom in 1980 they were reiterating
traditional values. But, as White illustrates, these traditional values
also laid the foundation for the Reagan presidency. Values discussions
animated policy-making by the Reagan presidency's inner circle and
presaged Reagan's reelection victory in 1984. (Davis 1989, 410)
In his research Professor White examines the impact that consensual American
values such as freedom, patriotism, liberty, individualism, equality of opportunity, and the
realization of success through the work ethic have on influencing popular opinion. White
utilizes the Reagan presidency as a case study to demonstrate how widely shared values
can positively influence the shaping of popular opinion and vote choice:
This [book] is not so much about Ronald Reagan's presidency as it
is about how we want to see ourselvesabout who we Americans are.
In this vein, Reagan provides the quintessential case study of how
widely shared values can be utilized to gamer public support and move
a nation. (White 1989, 6)
White argues that Reagan achieved his popular standing with the American
electorate because the fortieth president used the chief-of-state position as a vehicle to
connect positively with the American voters through symbolic appellations emphasizing
shared values (White 1989, 1990).
Professor White also contends that value issues can be used in a negative fashion
to divide the electorate. Symbolic value issues can be used to divide the electorate simply
by controlling the manner in which they are framed so as to maximize the potential that
already existing negative predispositions will be evoked. White believes that the potential


24
for symbolic value issues to elicit negative predispositions in the contemporary political
environment is the result of the post-industrial era's changing social and cultural agenda
(White 1983). White argues that the contemporary political landscape, particularly in the
case of the Democratic party, is comprised of essentially two distinct generational
collectives, the industrial and post-industrial classes. According to Everett Carl Ladd:
In post-industrial America, the character of social classes and their
relationships depart from previous experience. Increased wealth and
increased education, together with a new occupational mix, come
together to produce new organizations of social classes and new class
interests. (White 1983, Foreword)
Often times these new class interests are in conflict with the old class interests.
The majority of non-college educated industrialists subscribe to traditional social and
cultural values: opposition to abortion, pre-marital sex, and homosexuality, support for the
reimposition of the death penalty, and a deep abiding patriotism. However, the new
professional college educated post-industrial class embrace positions on these same social
and cultural value issues that diverge from those positions held by non-college educated
industrialists. The result is a polar environment ripe for political exploitation.
Maddox and Lilie lend support to White's conclusions. However, their four
category typology matrix uses ideological rather than generational considerations to
classify segments of the electorate Maddox and Lilie claim that the majority of the
Democratic party is composed of liberals (30%) and populists (37%). Liberals and
populists, they argue, share common roots in "New Deal" economics. Both philosophies
support government intervention in economic matters as a means to promote individual
welfare and provide for a minimum living standard. However, populists diverge from
liberals in their support for "the use of governmental power to regulate individual behavior
so that it conforms to traditional moral and social values" (Maddox & Lilie 1984, 20).
The divergence between liberals and populists within the Democratic party is predicated


25
on two different views on the nature of cultural value issues themselves. Liberals see
"cultural issues as related to liberty and leeway Populists join with traditional
conservatives who "see [cultural value issues] as related to license and libertinism"
(B Wattenberg 1995, 98). This difference of opinion on the nature of cultural and moral
value issues is the cause for much of the friction prevalent within the ranks of the
contemporary Democratic party:
The Democratic party will continue to be plagued by a liberal-populist
division, and will be forced to downplay individual liberties and emphasize
traditional economic policies to hold itself together. The Wallace revolt of
1968 and die McGovern movement of 1972, however, suggest that both
populists and liberals periodically will demand that issues other than
economic ones be considered. As these non-economic issues also tend
to be highly emotional--non-compromisable, such as abortion or women's
rightsthe Democratic party cannot be expected to remain at peace for
very long. (Maddox & Lilie 1984, 162-163)
Recent research analyzing conservative Democrats reflects Maddox and Lilie's
assessment of the economic and ideological cleavages present within the modem
Democratic party (Carmines & Berkman 1994). In their publication entitled "Ethos,
Ideology, and Partisanship : Exploring the Paradox of Conservative Democrats,"
Carmines and Berkman suggest strategies that both Democrats and Republicans should
pursue to successfully appeal to conservative Democrats. To build consensus and retain
conservatives' partisan loyalty, Democratic candidates, they claim, should emphasize class-
based issues and populist themes while portraying Republicans as economic elitists from
privileged backgrounds. Republican candidates, on the other hand, should seek to exploit
the ideological division within the Democratic coalition by making social and cultural
value issues such as capital punishment, race, school prayer, and gun control the focal
point of political debate.
E. J. Dionne, Jr., of the Washington Post lends support to the contention that
value issues have been used to divide the electorate. Instead of eliciting positive "feel
good" appeals as White argues in his case study of the Reagan presidency, Dionne


26
emphasizes how various value issues have been used to divide the electorate by eliciting
negative predispositions through the use of racial themes Dionne observes that racial
division is not the exclusive end result of racial politics. Like Carmines and Berkman,
Dionne sees the use of social and cultural value issues, particularly race, as linked to
ideology. According to Dionne, "racial politics [are] only part of the much broader attack
on liberalism mounted in the name of traditional values" (Dionne 1991, 79) To
understand the relationship between values and contemporary interpretations of liberalism
it is important to address the evolution of the term liberal as it relates to various aspects of
American politics, both historical and cultural


VALUES AND THE "L-WORD,": THE DENIGRATION OF LIBERALISM
Liberalism, like values, is a term subject to a variety of interpretations.
Interpretations of liberalism range from a political ideology, a historical tradition, a
philosophic theory of state, and a theory of economics. According to J. G. Merquior:
Liberalism, a manifold historical phenomenon, can scarcely be defined.
Having itself shaped a good deal of our modem world, liberalism reflects
the diversity of modem history, early as well as recent. The range of
liberal ideas encompasses thinkers as different in background and
motivation as Tocqueville and Mill, Dewey and Keynes, and nowadays,
Hayek and Rawls, not to speak of their "elected ancestors," such as
Locke, Montesquieu, and Adam Smith. (Merquior 1991, 1)
To adequately address the diverse variety of interpretations associated with
liberalism is a task beyond the scope of this research. However, it is important and
germane to the current study to discuss the evolution of the term in the context of the
American experience to better understand why, in 1988, the liberal label was perceived
negatively by a significant segment of the American populace. The term liberal has been
used in three distinct fashions to describe various aspects of .American politics. The
various pedigrees of liberalism used to describe American politics include "classical"
liberalism, "practical" liberalism, and "modern" liberalism.1 Whether understood in its
classical, practical, or modem context, American liberalism is linked to three basic value
concepts inherent to the American political culture, private property or wealth,
individualism, and equality of opportunity in a free market (Hartz 1955).
1 Modem liberalism is a term I employ to differentiate the post-Great Society interpretation of liberalism
from classical and practical liberalism.
27


28
Classical Liberalism
Classical liberalism, understood in the context of the American experience, can
trace its roots to the rise of Protestantism and capitalism and the decline of the
hierarchical, feudal social structure which dominated Europe in the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries. Two concepts emerged at this time which were central to the
development of a new understanding of humankind's relationship to society, self and work.
In the words of Isaac Kramnick:
Ascription, the assignment to some preordained rank in life, came more
and more to be replaced by achievement as the major definer of personal
identity. Individuals increasingly came to define themselves as active
subjects. They no longer tended to see their place in life as part of some
natural, inevitable, and eternal plan Their own enterprise and ability mattered;
they possessed the opportunity to determine their place through their own
voluntary actions in life and in this world. (Kramnick 1991, 93)
The writings of two philosophers greatly influenced the rise of a new theory of
politics based on the concepts of self and work; Thomas Hobbes and John Locke.
Hobbes, the progenitor of classical liberal theory, constructs in Leviathan a "brilliant
model of individualistic society . with its vision of human beings as self-moving,
self-directing independent machines, constantly competing with one another for power,
wealth, and glory" (Kramnick 1991, 93). According to Hobbes, a person's value or worth
is determined by their individual efforts. Wealth is accumulated in accordance with the
degree of one's work. However, Hobbes argues, the products of one's work are not
secure as competing individuals are constantly threatening its preservation. Because of
this threat, the Hobbesian philosophy argues, peoples' actions are driven by their desire for
self-preservation. Humans are bom into a state of nature where anarchy and terror reign.
To Hobbes, the state of nature is akin to a state of war of every person against every
person, in which their lives are "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short" (Portis 1994, 86).
Because the human passion of fear and desire for self-preservation are so strong, people


29
overcome their natural bellicose tendencies and enter into a social contract or government
to provide them with protection against those who would willingly harm them.
John Locke, in his Treatise on Civil Government, embraces the Hobbesian
concepts of the state of nature and the social contract. However, unlike Hobbes, the
Lockean natural state is not characterized by rampant lawlessness:
Instead of being ruled by anarchy and terror, humans pursue their individual
interests with respect for one another's rights and even cooperate with one
another when their interests overlap. In other words, the state of nature, a
state without political authority, would not necessarily be a state of war.
Instead, it would be governed by rules of reason that constitute the laws
of nature. (Portis 1994, 97)
While humans are born free and equal into the state of nature, Locke argues that it
is not a state of license. Natural law dictates that people should not harm one another in
terms of their life, health, liberty, or property. Realizing that in an environment where
people will not always agree on the meaning of natural law each individual would be free
to interpret and execute the law of nature in their own selfish fashion. Therefore, Locke
claims, people would be willing to sacrifice the freedom to exercise the law of nature
individually and enter into social contracts to guarantee the security and protection of their
rights to life, liberty, and property. The authority to exercise power would be granted to a
government whose legitimacy rests with the consent of the governed. The government
would enjoy the consent of the governed as long as the government functions to protect
the rights and property of individual members of society. If the government should fail to
perform its contractual function, then the populace as a whole can withdraw its consent
and dissolve the government.
Essential to understanding Locke's philosophy is his concept of property. Like
Hobbes, Locke believes that property or wealth is accumulated according to each
individual's labor. In Locke's state of nature everyone is free to accumulate property.
However, often times property is accumulated in disproportionate amounts. Necessary to
Locke's discussion of property is the concept of equal opportunity. Everyone, Locke


30
argues, has equal opportunity to accumulate property but the fruits of possession are
contingent on individual initiative and degree of labor. "Therefore, equal opportunity
justifies unequal outcomes" (Love 1991, 2). For Locke, the accumulation of wealth is not
unethical or immoral, but rather humankind's God given right to use terrestrial resources
for individual personal benefit. Locke's philosophy of politics, based on the concepts of
self and work, provides the rationale to replace an aristocratic feudal hierarchy with
meritocracy, a social structure where power and influence is predicated on property
accumulated by individual initiative rather than familial status and inheritance
From the philosophies of Hobbes and Locke, therefore, blossom the tenets of the
classic liberal state, a state where free people, equal in opportunity, utilize their individual
labor to create property secure in the knowledge that their basic rights and liberties are
protected by a government limited in the exercise of its power by those that it governs.
Historical realities associated with the founding of the United States created an
environment where the principles of classical liberalism formed the bedrock of the
American political culture. In Europe, proponents of classical liberalism had to contend
with competing ideologies including socialism, feudalism, and conservatism.2 No such
competition between ideological factions existed in the United States. "America was
founded by men and women who fled from the feudal ethos of Europe, and brought with
them the liberal ideology of John Locke" (Ingersoll & Matthews 1991, 56).
Unencumbered by competing ideologies the supremacy of Lockean liberalism in American
political thought went largely unquestioned. "As a result, any thought that did not fit into
the broadly defined Lockeanliberal perspective was considered ////-.American" (Ingersoll
& Matthews 1991, 57).
The all encompassing influence of classical liberalism on American political
thought is evident in the written documents upon which the American nation is founded.
2 In the context of this statement the term conservatism refers to the school of thought that advocates the
retention of the traditional monarchical establishment.


31
Thomas Jefferson, when writing the Declaration of Independence, draws heavily from the
tenets of classical liberalism espoused by both Hobbes and Locke:
We hold these truths to be self evident: That all men are created equal, that
they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among
these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights,
governments are instituted by men, deriving their just powers from the consent
of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive
of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute
new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its
powers in such form, as to them shall most likely effect their safety and
happiness.
Similarly, the Constitution of the United States embodies features of classical
liberalism; the creation of a government, limited in its power and authority, which receives
its legitimacy from the consent of the governed through popular elections and the securing
of civil liberties through the first ten constitutional amendments known as the Bill of
Rights.
The tenets of classic liberalism were further legitimized by geographic factors.
Unlike Europe, America was a seemingly limitless territory. The untapped economic
potential of this vast new frontier supplied the means for all citizens to increase their
personal property provided they were willing to engage in individual labor The
ubiquitous generational belief that one could climb the ladder of success through hard
work, known metaphorically as the "American dream," can trace its origins to the time
when the United States was a virgin territory ripe with undeveloped economic resources
Practical Liberalism
For over a century the term liberal described, for most Americans, their unique
national experience, a nation where free people, equal in opportunity, could utilize their
individual talents to labor in the creation of personal wealth secure in the knowledge that
their basic rights and liberties were protected by a government limited in the exercise of its
power by those that it governs. It was not until 140 years after the birth of the .American


32
nation that the foundation was laid for the meaning of liberalism to be extended and
ultimately transformed into its contemporary interpretation. The transformation of the
meaning of liberalism can be traced to the national economic crisis of the 1930s and
Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt's controversial program, known as the New
Deal, that was designed to address the country's economic hardships resulting from the
Great Depression It was during this period, as Theda Skocpol observes, that liberalism
emerged as an "explicit political stance defined in opposition to conservatism" (Skocpol
1983, 87).
The New Deal advocated federal government intervention in economic markets
and society in general "to promote the rights and welfare of nonprivileged groups and to
ensure socioeconomic security and political stability for the nation as a whole" (Skocpol
1983, 87). To advance the New Deal in an anti-statist political system Roosevelt
deliberately engaged in a public relations campaign that utilized the public's positive
understanding of classical liberalism to effectively communicate an acceptable meaning
and purpose of his domestic agenda. "During the grave crisis of the Depression, Franklin
Roosevelt needed a new political label to symbolize the 'bold, persistent experimentation'
of the New Deal" (Skocpol 1983, 87).
Research conducted by Ronald Rotunda demonstrates that Roosevelt deliberately
chose the label "liberal" over other alternatives to describe the New Deal. "Prior to the
1930s, 'liberalism' had been used occasionally as a synonym for 'progressivism'" (Skocpol
1983, 87). Roosevelt and his advisors rationalized the use of the term because they
believed the association with progressivism would help enlist progressive political support.
However, the association was ambiguous enough to allow the president to pursue
innovative domestic programs. The common understanding of the term "liberal" provided
two additional benefits to Roosevelt. First, it helped to counter arguments that his
domestic agenda was, by its nature, socialist. And second, it aided in competing with


33
Herbert Hoover and other conservative anti-statist critics for the claim of best representing
the traditional American values of individualism and liberty:3
Their government activism, New Deal liberals asserted, better protected
democratic liberties and individual well-being and [equal] opportunity than
did the cold-hearted, laissez-faire pieties of conservatism . Their nascent
welfare state. New Dealers told Americans, was not an attack on basic
American values that conservatives were saying it was, rather merely an
excellent instrument for furthering those values by avoiding anarchy or
dictatorship in the Depression crisis, striking down the excessive
privileges and power of "economic autocrats," and relieving economic
necessity so that Americans in distress could really be free and exercise
their rights to equality of opportunity . New Dealers turned to this
instrumental justification for their welfare-state reforms, tying them to
established values of healthy market capitalism, individual rights, and
equality of opportunity, precisely because New Dealers felt ideologically
pressured from the right from 1934 on. They were operating in an
individualist and anti-statist political system, and they were facing
increasingly vociferous conservative opponents with many political levers
at their disposal m Congress and in the Democratic [and Republican]
parties. (Skocpol 1983, 87 & 95)
Franklin Roosevelt and his supporters exploited the positive connotations of
classical liberalism for the purpose of advancing public acceptance of their innovative and
controversial domestic program, the New Deal. In the process, Roosevelt and his
supporters transformed the meaning of liberalism by framing the term as a label to describe
a governmental posture which embraced active intervention in the economy and society
"to promote the rights and welfare of nonprivileged groups and to ensure socioeconomic
security and political stability for the nation as a whole" (Skocpol 1983, 87). In addition,
the New Dealer's use of liberal to describe their domestic program forever linked the term,
for better or worse, to the Democratic party. To differentiate classical liberalism from
Roosevelt's interpretation Samuel Beer labels FDR's version "practical liberalism":
3 Theda Skocpol observes in her footnote concerning Ronald Rotunda's research that initially right-wing
critics of the New Deal insisted upon calling themselves "the true liberals." However, beginning in the
late 1930s they accepted the label "conservative" for their position.


34
It is from the New Deal that liberalism in its contemporary American usage
has acquired its principal meaning. The liberalism that has been a really
significant power in American politics, both as a set of ideas and a social
force, has been .the practical liberalism brought into existence by the New
Deal. And the stress on economic balance and economic security that was
characteristic of the New Deal remained essential to the meaning of liberalism
in its later embodiments in Truman's Fair Deal and the programs of the
Kennedy-Johnson administrations. (Beer 1965, 145-146)
FDR's marriage of convenience between practical and classical liberalism did not
eliminate the distinct contradictions that exist between both interpretations. Practical
liberalism's principle that the state has an obligation to provide for society's less fortunate
is in direct contention with particular tenets of classical liberalism that form an integral
part of the American political culture; the values of individual self reliance and work.
Initially practical liberalism was able to avoid direct confrontation with the American
cultural ethos on the political battlefield only because political and historical circumstances
permitted the general populace to improve their personal financial condition. Specifically,
during the 1940s through the early 1960s the state could finance a relative redistribution
of wealth out of an expanding pool of resources so that no one would suffer an absolute
decline in their standard of living (Lasch 1983, 105). As Christopher Lasch observes.
During World War II, at the height of the [practical] liberal era, the American
government achieved a modest redistribution of income in a climate of rapid
economic growth, not by setting a limit on earnings but by the simple
expedient of allowing "the rich to get richer at a somewhat slower rate than
it allowed the poor to get richer." As a result, the "share of national income
held by the richest 5% of the people declined from 23.7% to 16.8%," while
the number of families under $2,000 fell by more than half. The political
compromises available in a more expansive era are most vividly conveyed
by the statistic that the poorest fifth increased its income by 68% between
1941 and 1945, while the income of the upper fifth increased by only 20%.
(Lasch 1983, 105-106)
It is now commonly accepted that the New Deal failed to bring full national
economic recovery to America. Recovery only came with the economic expansion
attributable to World War II (Skocpol 1983, 90). However, FDR was all too happy to
credit practical liberalism embodied in his New Deal policies for saving America from the
economic quagmire. The perception of programmatic success represented by increased


35
personal wealth and income forged an alliance between middle, working, and lower class
Americans which translated into a formidable electoral coalition. .Any grievances brought
to the ballot box by wealthy Americans who witnessed the growth of their incomes decline
during Roosevelt's presidency were far outnumbered by the beneficiaries of the New Deal,
the coalition of middle, working, and lower class Americans.
The alliance between middle, working, and lower class Americans continued as
long as economic growth permitted personal wealth and income to increase for the vast
majority of Americans. However, economic expansion is not permanent. The
tenuous alliance between middle income and poor, nonprivileged groups, forged by
economics, was under constant threat by the contradictions between practical liberalism
and the values of American political culture embodied in the tenets of classical liberalism:
The point is that economic expansion helped to smooth over the underlying
conflicts of a liberal society, between individual liberty and social justice,
property and economic equality. [Practical] liberals repeatedly had to face
the possibility that a day of reckoning might be approaching in which the
contradictions at the heart of [practical] liberal democracy could no longer
be evaded. (Lasch 1983, 106)
The events of the 1960s and 1970s, both foreign and domestic, would herald the
predicted day of reckoning for FDR's practical liberalism and the electoral coalition it
forged.
Modern Liberalism
No single event provided the catalyst to initiate the third transformation of the
meaning of liberalism; the interpretation referred to as "modem" liberalism. Rather,
several historical, social, and political events, occurring over a period of two decades,
intertwined to contribute to the transformation of the term into the contemporary
pejorative interpretation currently embraced by large segments of the American electorate.
The impact the Vietnam war, economic stagnation, the civil and minority rights


36
movements, and President Lyndon Johnson's social program, known as the Great Society,
had on the issues of taxes, rights, and race as they relate to values inherent in the
American political culture would, in turn, have a profound effect on the meaning of
liberalism.
The twenty years following World War II witnessed the most sustained period of
economic growth in American history (Lasch 1983, 109). The only world power to
escape the war with its domestic infrastructure unscathed, the United States dominated the
post war global economy. However, by the 1970s, American economic strength was in
question and the nation's dominance of the world economy was at risk. The expansive
economy that had characterized the forties, fifties, and much of the sixties had begun to
contract. In large measure, the economic downturn was attributable to the huge level of
defense spending associated with the Vietnam war, increased foreign competition, and
rising petroleum prices resulting from the Arab oil embargo of the early 1970s.
Practical liberalism's commitment to promote the rights and welfare of
nonprivileged groups had, by the sixties, adopted the causes of civil and minority rights
and the battle against domestic poverty. While the seeds of economic stagnation were
being sown, President Lyndon Johnson, in the aftermath of his landslide 1964 election
victory, launched an extensive domestic program, known as the Great Society, to address
the nation's social problems. Johnson's Great Society included policies designed to
eradicate domestic poverty through promoting social welfare programs, the broadening of
the Social Security system, increased aid to education, and the adoption of the
Medicare/Medicaid programs. The Great Society not only expanded the federal
government's role in domestic affairs but increased the national government's domestic
financial commitments.
The contracting economy spurred by increased foreign competition, the recession
of 1973-74 that resulted from the Arab oil embargo, and the nation's extensive military
commitments produced high inflation that shrank the national tax base creating a severe


37
strain on the federal government's ability to meet its financial obligations, both foreign and
domestic. Ultimately, the financial burden of funding both the war effort and Johnson's
expansive social programs fell upon the inflation strapped working and middle classes in
the form of tax increases. Despite paying higher taxes, the working and middle classes
received minimal benefit from the broad range of government policies they were being
asked to finance:
[Fjederal spending placed a heavy burden on the taxpayers who could
least afford to bear it, or in any case enjoyed the fewest measurable benefits
from this spending. The working class and the lower middle class have been
taxed to support programs that benefited the poor and the rich (Lasch 1983, 110)
The perception among many working and middle class Americans that they were
funding programs without receiving any direct benefit was compounded by a growing
sentiment that the very programs for which they were paying advantaged people who were
unwilling to contribute to their own economic well-being. The belief that many federal aid
recipients were enjoying "something for nothing" fostered strong negative sentiments
against the Great Society welfare programs among many "economically-strapped"
working and middle class Americans. A large segment of the working and middle class
felt that the legal and bureaucratic structure of the Great Society welfare-state encouraged
the existence of a double standard. Many in the working and middle classes believed that
they were unfairly expected to adhere to the cultural principles of individual initiative and
hard work to get ahead, while others were exempt from them. The working and middle
classes, through hard work and self-reliance, were creating wealth only to see it
redistributed through excessive taxation for the benefit of those who they perceived to be
unwilling to exercise individual initiative to get ahead; and they resented it.
The crux of working and middle class anger concerning the welfare state is
embodied in the feelings of Louise Renaud, a teacher living in Detroit, Michigan. During
the 1960s Louise worked as a secretary while attending college at night studying for her


38
degree in education. By 1972 she had graduated and was earning $9,000 a year as a
teacher, a 30 percent increase in her annual salary as compared to when she was employed
as a secretary Despite her pay increase Louise could not afford to purchase expensive
designer jeans. Yet, in her classroom Louise taught students from welfare families
wearing the same jeans she herself could not afford. "It was the straw that broke the
camel's back," said Louise. "I would see the kids, whose families were on AFDC, walking
around in designer jeans, silk shirts, alligator shoes. And I'm breaking my buns. What the
hell is going on9 I can't afford that" (Brown 1991, 14).
In the eyes of some voters, particularly those in the working and middle classes,
the welfare policies of the Great Society benefited individuals who were increasingly seen
as undeserving because they refused to help themselves. The perception among many
working and middle class voters, particularly whites, that some in the United States were
benefiting at the expense of others without adhering to the tenets of American political
culture was further exacerbated by the civil and minority rights movements.
The roots of the modern civil rights movement can be traced to FDR's New Deal
commitment to provide for those at the bottom of the economic and social ladder.
Initially, the civil rights movement focused on government guarantees of fundamental
citizenship rights for blacks such as the right to vote and the right to equal opportunity.
However, following the dramatic events of 1964 the focus of civil rights shifted from one
emphasizing equality of opportunity to the advancement of "broader goals emphasizing
equal outcomes or results for blacks, often achieved through racial preferences" (Edsall &
Edsall 1991, 7). It was this change in focus and the perceptions it fostered that would
significantly impact the meaning of liberalism.
The torch of civil rights was carried by Roosevelt's practical liberal Democratic
successors, Presidents Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson. Influenced by the growing
political clout of black Americans, the increasing opposition to segregation from large
segments of northern whites, and the growing dependence of northern city political bosses


39
on the black vote, the Democratic party became the institutional vehicle for the promotion
of civil rights.4 By 1948 the national Democratic party had firmly committed itself to
promoting the cause of civil rights. Over the objection of many southern Democrats, the
1948 Democratic convention platform consigned the party "to continuing efforts to
eradicate all racial, religious, and economic discrimination" (Key 1949, 335). The national
Democrats commitment to civil rights spanned the 1950s culminating in the Civil Rights
Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the two strongest pieces of civil rights
legislation ever enacted. At the time, the long term residual effects of the legislation may
have been unseen. However, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 represented the clear
demarcation between the concept of civil rights based on equal opportunity and civil rights
premised on equal outcomes. Specifically, the landmark legislation declared entrenched
segregation in the South illegal, provided the United States Attorney General with the
power to file suit against segregated school systems, prohibited segregation in public
facilities, barred discrimination in the work place based on race, and provided for the
termination of federal funds to schools, hospitals, and other institutions that engaged in
discriminatory practices (Edsall & Edsall 1991, 35).
The debate over rights was not limited strictly to eradicating social injustices
associated with black Americans Another feature of the rights movement included "the
establishment of new rights and government guarantees for previously marginalized,
stigmatized, or historically disenfranchised groups" such as homosexuals, advocates of
"alternative life-styles," feminists, criminals, and ethnic minorities (Edsall & Edsall 1991,
8). Often unpopular with traditional constituencies, the advancement of the goals of many
racial and minority groups could not be achieved through positive influence of public
4 Whites, particularly those residing in the north, were generally supportive of civil rights as long as it
was perceived to be promoting equality of opportunity rather than economic equality. The non-southern
white electorate in the early and mid-1960s strongly endorsed the non-violent civil rights movement. In
both February 1964 and March 1965, the Gallup poll found that 72 percent of whites outside the South
thought Johnson was pushing civil rights "about right" or "not fast enough," and only 28 percent who
thought that the president was moving "too fast" (Edsall & Edsall 1991, 36).


40
opinion. "Women, blacks, the elderly, Mexican-Americans, homosexuals, single parents,
advocates of'alternative life-styles' all perceive, quite correctly, that the ends they seek are
unpopular with the masses of voters" (Lasch 1983, 112). Unable to secure their goals in
the court of public opinion, racial and minority groups pursued juridical and bureaucratic
solutions to achieve their purposes. The court imposed solutions implemented by
bureaucratic means, such as affirmative action, employment quotas, and laws prohibiting
discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, have not been warmly received by
segments of the white working and middle class communities who perceive such solutions
as counter to traditional methods of advancement based on hard work and individual
initiative and traditional moral codes.
Before the enactment of the landmark civil rights legislation, the public perceived
little difference between the two political parties on issues of race and rights. However,
after 1964 the public's perception of the dissonance between the parties on issues of race
grew dramatically:
As recently as 1962, when respondents were asked which party "is more
likely to see to it that Negroes get fair treatment in jobs and housing?" 22.7
percent said Democrats, 21.3 percent said Republicans, and 55.9 percent
said there was no difference between the two parties. ... By late 1964, however,
the public saw clear differences between the two parties. When asked which
party was more likely to support fair treatment in jobs for blacks, 60 percent
of the respondents said the Democratic party, 33 percent said there was no
difference between the parties, and only 7 percent said the Republican party.
(Edsall & Edsall 1991, 35-36)
One reason for the dramatic change in public opinion was the tenor of the 1964
presidential election. Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater firmly opposed
the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and made it a focal point of his campaign. In contrast, his
practical liberal Democratic opponent, President Johnson, was a leading advocate of the
landmark legislation. Polling data indicated that by the conclusion of the 1964 campaign
75% of the surveyed respondents were aware that Congress had passed the Civil Rights
Act; and of those aware of the congressional action 96% knew that Johnson had


41
supported the civil rights bill while 84% knew Goldwater had opposed it (Edsall & Edsall
1991, 35).
Following the 1964 presidential campaign public perceptions of differences
between the parties on the issues of taxes, race, and rights became more firmly established
by the priming and framing of the term "liberal" by Republicans, particularly Richard M.
Nixon and Ronald Reagan, and George Wallace, the Democratic governor of Alabama.
In his 1968 comeback presidential campaign and his 1972 reelection bid Richard
Nixon strategically courted disgruntled working and middle class voters, particularly
working and middle class white Democrats, by capitalizing on their grievances toward the
domestic policies of the Great Society and the social and political unrest associated with
the civil rights and anti-war movements. Referring to the forgotten working and middle
class as the "silent majority," Nixon attempted to polarize the electorate by framing the
problems of the working and middle classes as directly linked to the injustices of the
"liberal" policies espoused by the Democratic administrations of the 1960s. Nixon's first
vice president, Spiro Agnew, actively assumed the role of presidential "pit-bull" frequently
attacking the public policies of what he called the "radical liberals."
Nixon and his Republican allies were not alone in their "mugging" of liberalism.
The segregationist governor of Alabama, George Wallace, helped to galvanize the anger
and resentment of working and middle class whites, particularly Democrats, into a
formidable electoral coalition by his insurgent 1968 presidential campaign. Wallace's anti
liberal rhetoric, especially in regard to civil rights issues, helped to justify the feelings of
many working and middle class white Democrats toward the Great Society and the civil
and minority rights movements precisely because Wallace himself was a member of their
party. According to Thomas and Mary Edsall:
Wallace provided a desperately sought-after moral justification to those
whites who saw themselves as most victimized and most displaced by the
black struggle for civil rights . Wallace portrayed the civil rights issue not
as the struggle of blacks to achieve equality~a goal increasingly difficult


42
to challenge on a moral basis-but as the imposition on workmg men and
women of intrusive "social" policies by an insulated, liberal, elitist cabal of
lawyers, judges, editorial writers, academics, government bureaucrats,
and planners. (Edsall & Edsall 1991, 77)
The recent string of Republican successes at the presidential level was possible
because George Wallace laid the foundation for what ultimately became the GOP's alliance
with working and middle class white Democrats. As Nixon strategist Kevin Phillips noted,
"Wallace served as a way station for Democratic traditionalists following realignment
into the Republican party" (Phillips 1970, 287). By attacking what he called the extremes
of the "liberal social experiments," Democrat Wallace was able to establish common
ground between working and middle class white Democrats and "their traditional
Republican adversariescorporate America, the well-to-do, and the very richa common
bond in opposition to federal regulation and to high taxes" (Edsall & Edsall 1991, 79).
Republicans were able to keep the coalition alive by cultivating the perception that the
GOP was the institutional mechanism to stem and reverse the perceived economic, social,
and political injustices of the Great Society and the civil and minority rights movements.
Ronald Reagan, more than any other recent political leader, solidified working and
middle class whites into a winning Republican electoral coalition through the deliberate
and calculated transformation of the meaning of liberalism into a pejorative metaphor. A
formidable force in Republican politics during the late seventies and the dominant force
during the eighties, Ronald Reagan and his Republican foot soldiers continued the Nixon
and Wallace strategy of denigrating liberalism. Reagan unabashedly blamed the Great
Society and the civil and minority rights policies enacted by practical liberals as
responsible for the decay of the nation's moral fabric and the root cause for the vast
majority of problems that beset working and middle class whites. To crack the New Deal
electoral coalition and dislodge working and middle class white voters from their
traditional allegiance to the Democratic party, Reagan and other Republican conservatives
openly appealed to the resentment and anger among white voters by constantly linking


43
policies unpopular with many working and middle class whites, such as welfare,
affirmative action, quotas, and homosexual rights, to "liberalism" as it was embodied in the
programs of the Great Society and the civil and minority rights movements. As Jesse
Jackson observed, "Reagan convinced whites the civil rights movement had taken
advantage of them" (Brown 1991, 84).
Richard Nixon, George Wallace, and Ronald Reagan helped to transform the
meaning of liberalism from a positive to a pejorative connotation by capitalizing on the
growing resentment among working and middle class white Americans toward programs
that they came to believe unfairly disadvantaged them Remarks by Reagan, like his 1987
statement, "we waged war on poverty, and poverty won," captured the essence of white
resentment and resonated throughout working and middle class America (Brown 1991,
84). Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and Republicans competing on all
electoral levels during the late 1960s, 1970s and 1980s benefited from the votes of
working and middle class whites, many being registered Democrats, who ultimately
accepted the argument that the liberal policies of the Great Society and the civil and
minority rights movements were the causes of the economic, social, and political injustices
that they had suffered. Nationally, the Democratic party validated Republican claims that
their party was controlled by "liberals" by nominating candidates for president, like George
McGovern, Walter Mondale, and Michael Dukakis, who either publicly supported or were
perceived to support racial, rights, and tax policies that were counter to the interests of
working and middle class whites. Presidential candidates like McGovern, Mondale, and
Dukakis, who were perceived to be "liberal" in the pejorative sense of the term, only
accelerated the exodus of working and middle class w'hite Americans from the Democratic
party.


American Political Culture Values and Modern Liberalism:
A Fundamental Problem for the Democratic Party
44
The social and domestic policies of practical liberal Democrats, such as Truman,
Kennedy, and Johnson, have inexorably linked the Democratic party with the advancement
of civil and minority rights and a host of taxpayer-paid social welfare programs. Some
scholars have argued that once the focus of civil and minority rights and social welfare
issues shifted from one emphasizing equality of opportunity to the advancement of goals
emphasizing economic equality and equal outcomes the Democrats' connection with these
issues as they relate to rights, race, and taxes evolved into a fundamental dispute
concerning values. According to Thomas and Mary Edsall, it is the "values barrier" that
has proven the most problematic for national Democrats and is at the core of the party's
negative image with its former core constituencies of working and middle class white
Americans:
This barrier evolved, in complex and ironic ways, from one of the grand
struggles of the twentieth century; a struggle between so-called traditional
values and a competing set of insurgent values. "Traditional" values have
generally been seen as revolving around commitments to a larger (if
exclusive) commumty-to the family, to parental responsibility, to
country, to the work ethic, to sexual restraint, to self-control, to rules,
duty, authority, and to a stable social order A competing or insurgent
set of valuesvalues that have been the focus of the rights revolution
and of the civil rights movementhas been largely concerned with
freedom from confinement, from hierarchy, from authority, from
stricture, from repression, from rigid rulemaking, and from the status
quo. Insofar as the post-war Democratic party has been geared toward
the liberation of disenfranchised minorities, and towards an assault on
hierarchy, on embedded privilege, and on the power of the strong over
the weakthe party has allied itself with insurgent rather than traditional
values. (Edsall & Edsall 1991, 262-263)
Other scholars join the Edsalls in arguing that the modern electoral misfortunes of
the national Democratic party are linked to values, specifically symbolic values (Bell 1992;
Brown 1991, Kusnet 1992; Kuttner 1987). These authors center their discussions on the
Democratic party because each sees the recent decline in the presidential fortunes of the


45
nation's oldest political party as a direct result of symbolic politics based on values
appeals Written from an historical perspective, Jeffrey Bell, Peter Brown, David Kusnet,
and Robert Kuttner trace the Democrats' long national level political exile, arguing that the
party has been largely unsuccessful at winning the White House because they have allowed
Republicans to make symbolic value issues the focal point of political debate thus turning
elections into ideological referendums. What their arguments reflect is the contention that
values matter-specifically, that the Democratic party no longer shares the values of
working and middle class white voters. What Democrats have ignored, according to then
Governor Bill Clinton, is that "values [and] symbolism matter" in the decision-making
calculus of many voters (Brown 1991, 124). These authors place the blame for the partys
lack of national level success upon the Democrats' perceptual association, among other
things, with policies that promote wealth redistribution, criminal rights above victims'
rights, minority rights at the expense of equal treatment, and weakness on matters of
national defense.
These policies, the authors argue, are highly unpopular because they run counter to
widely shared individual and community values of hard work, economic individualism,
security, and egalitarianism, concepts which are the bulwark of "classical liberalism" and
the foundation of the American political culture. The values-based priming and framing of
civil and minority rights, taxes, and racial issues by conservative Republicans, such as
Goldwater and Reagan, has transformed the meaning of the term liberal from its positive
"classical" and "practical" interpretations to a radical pejorative connotation associated in
the minds of many voters, particularly working and middle class whites, with a host of
insurgent values and a fundamental departure from the principles of traditional American
political culture. Today, "liberal" has become a codeword representing a set of values
contrary to the principles of traditional American social, moral, and political culture. Bell,
Brown, Kusnet, and Kuttner conclude that the Democrats' perpetual association with
policies that promote wealth redistribution, criminal rights above victims' rights, racial and


46
minority rights at the expense of equal treatment, and weakness on matters of national
defense is neatly summed-up in value-laden symbols which, today, elicit negative
predispositions associated with the label "liberal" among many working and middle class
whites.
Peter Brown argues in his book, Minority Party, that the unpopularity of policies
that promote wealth redistribution, criminal rights above victims' rights, minority rights at
the expense of equal treatment, and w eakness on matters of national defense ultimately
devolves into tensions between those whose constellation of values reflect faith in
collective solutions to society's problems and those who see merit in the ethos of
individual initiative To the majority of working and middle class Americans modern
liberals have abandoned them and their quest to realize the American Dream of a better
standard of living, a good job at a fair wage, and advancement based on hard work and
education. In the name of civil liberties and social justice, modem liberals are seen to be
only interested in promoting aid to minorities, criminals, and other special interests even at
the expense of others' rights or interests (Brown 1991, 28).
Brown further contends that part of the modern liberal social justice policy
requires society to redistribute its wealth, reform criminals, and compensate aggrieved
minorities for past injustices. While not disputing that government should help the
underprivileged, many in the United States feel that the programs and policies associated
with modern liberalism have gone too far. At issue for many working and middle class
white citizens is the concept of fairness. Many working and middle class white Americans
reject the liberals faith in wealth redistribution and civil and minority rights because they
see them as unfairly benefiting others at their expense. Economically, many among the
working and middle classes believe that the current welfare system promotes "welfare
queens" who freeload-off society while the working and middle class taxpayers foot-the-
bill.


47
In addition, many working and middle class white Americans see civil and minority
rights laws as unfairly jeopardizing their personal security and ability to advance in their
chosen professions In terms of criminal justice issues many working and middle class
citizens believe that the rights movement has resulted in laws which have unjustifiably
reduced the severity of criminal punishment and, in some instances, resulted in prison
environments where criminals enjoy better living standards than many law-abiding citizens.
Furthermore, many working and middle class white Americans believe affirmative action
and employment quotas, which masquerading under the guise of equality of opportunity,
provide minorities with a mechanism to bypass traditional methods of advancement based
on experience and qualification
In the eyes of many working and middle class whites, contemporary liberalism
advances public policies that dispense with individual initiative as the means for providing
personal well being A large proportion of the population believes that the policy agenda
embraced by modern liberalism runs counter to the shared American political and cultural
values that dignify hard work and honest living (Brown 1991, Edsall & Edsall 1991).
Because of the Democrats' historical association with the liberal label, perceptions of the
party among working and middle class white Americans have been adversely affected
because this former core constituency of FDR's New Deal coalition no longer sees
liberalism in a positive, "practical" sense. Louise Renaud's observation concerning race
and welfare issues best summarizes the sentiments many working and middle class white
voters have toward the Democratic party: "If they [black welfare recipients] can wear
Calvin Klein jeans and have babies by not working, then they say, 'Why should I go and
flip hamburgers for $4 an hour9' . They think someone, the government, will take care
of them. The more babies, the more AFDC. And the Democrats have perpetuated that
system. They [the Democrats] are going in a whole different direction than I am" (Brown
1991, 19). The problem for the Democratic party as it relates to working and middle class


48
white voters' perceptions of liberalism is neatly contained in the words of a contemporary
bumper sticker "Vote Democrat, It Beats Working!"
Values and Ideology: Is There a Connection?
The focus of recent values related literature clearly suggests that there is a
connection between values and ideology, particularly in regard to interpretations of certain
shared American values like freedom, liberty, individualism, patriotism, and equality of
opportunity If this is true then it is logical to conclude that there is a relationship between
values and ideology. However, as John Zaller points out, the failure to specify the nature
of the theoretical relationship of different value continua to one another and to political
ideology is a major shortcoming inherent in the values literature (Zaller 1992, 26).
Zaller attempts to remedy this shortcoming by arguing that values are linked
together to form ideologies and that ideologies are composed of various values
dimensions:
First, the various value dimensions are no longer conceptually independent;
rather, each is one among several correlated dimensions of a master concept,
ideology. Second, ideology is no longer the strictly unidimensional concept
that many discussions have considered it to be, but a constellation of related
value dimensions. (Zaller 1992, 26)
To support his contention Zaller cites the ability of people to exhibit fairly
consistent "left" or "right" or "centrist" tendencies on such disparate value issues as
economic individualism, opinions toward communists, tolerance of nonconformists, racial
issues, sexual freedom, and religious authority.5 Zaller explains the consistent
dimensionality of ideology by analogy to human intelligence. Zaller contends that it is rare
5 Zaller operationalizes "liberal" and "conservative" as labels describing people that tend to be closer to
the left or right pole of some particular value dimension, or closer to one or the other pole of the
constellation of associated liberal-conservative values. In his research, v alues and ideology have exactly
the same theoretical status: they are indicators of predispositions to accept or reject particular political
communications (Zaller 1992. 27-28).


49
to find someone who is a brilliant mathematician yet a verbal illiterate. Conversely, it is
rare to find someone who is simultaneously a gifted writer yet cannot perform simple
mathematical functions. Similarly, Zaller contends, it is rare to find someone who is very
conservative on one dimension and very liberal on the other.6 "There is a tendency, which
is clear but not overpowering, for people to stake out roughly comparable positions on a
series of seemingly unrelated left-right value dimensions" (Zaller 1992, 27).
Zaller's observation on the consistent dimensionality of ideology is central to the
discussion of the 1988 election. The Bush campaign organized a group of seemingly
unrelated issues that represented a host of disparate value dimensions. Yet, embedded in
each value dimension was a dominant frame or viewpoint which acted as a central
organizing concept implying a particular ideological alternative. When understood in their
totality the value dimensions symbolized by the issues were consistently linked with the
ideological dimensionality associated with contemporary liberalism.
Value Issues in Other Political Contexts: The 1992 Presidential Campaign
Political appeals using value issues that run counter to universally shared political
culture orientations can often be unsuccessful Recently, another values term, "traditional
family values," has received extensive attention within the .American political dialogue.
The issue of family values achieved prominence as a theme in the 1992 Republican
presidential campaign in response to perceived weaknesses in the personal and family life
of Democratic presidential nominee Bill Clinton. Rumors of Clinton's marital infidelity
symbolized by the Gennifer Flowers controversy allowed Republicans to raise personal
character as an issue. Furthermore, Republicans made an issue of the role of women in
society using Hillary Rodham Clinton as the focus of the debate. However, unlike most
6 Zaller notes the possible exception of libertarians who tend to be conservative on economic issues and
liberal on social, life-style issues. However, he argues that they are sufficiently uncommon in the United
States so ideological studies can safely ignore them.


50
shared values, family values have distinct personal and moral overtones which suggest
how individuals should conduct their lives. Within the context of American political
culture such an approach is incompatible with the cherished tenet of separation of church
and state. In a 1981 Decision/Making/Information study 66% of those surveyed, despite
concerns about pornography and lack of moral standards, believed that consenting adults
ought to be able to do whatever they want in private (White 1989, 27). Political efforts
perceived as imposing universal moral codes are as unappealing as those that emphasize
consensual values are appealing because each sensitizes Americans to the tenets which
underlie our political culture.
Furthermore, the extent that certain value issues can successfully impact political
behavior depends on their degree of consensus among the American electorate
(Rosenbaum 1975). For a value issue to significantly influence political behavior it must
be an issue that achieves general public agreement as to its importance and/or harm to the
society as a whole. In addition, the public must perceive that a clear distinction exists with
one political candidate embracing the wrong or nonconsensual side of the value issue. The
greatest potential for dramatic changes in political behavior exists when, in the context of
political debate, a salient value issue is raised in which the public expresses a clear
consensus and one candidate is perceived to embrace the minority position on the issue.
Ben Wattenberg argues that one reason the Republicans did not win in 1992 was because
the party, specifically Bush, did not focus debate on consensual symbolic value-based
issues during the campaign:
Here are some items that were not presented forcefully in prime time in Houston
[site of the Republican National Convention]: quotas, welfare, crime, educational
discipline. These are all legitimate grist for political discourse, all harming America,
all can be. arguably, laid at the feet of the recent liberal impulse in America, and all
of w hich Bush had addressed at one time or another. (B. Wattenberg 1995. 64)
Wattenberg would categorize family value issues as cultural in nature because of
the lack of consensus concerning what they represent. "Liberals often see the cultural


51
issues as related to liberty and leeway. Conservatives often see them as related to license
and libertinism" (B Wattenberg 1995, 98). Issues that can potentially impact traditional
family life such as pornography, abortion, sex education, and promiscuity are often issues
which lack a high degree of consensus. The lack of consensus concerning the impact on
society of family value issues limits the extent that these issues can potentially influence
political behavior
If the goal of Republican operatives in 1992 was to attract the more socially
conservative working class Democrats based on a campaign emphasizing traditional family
values, for the most part, their efforts failed. They failed not only because family value
issues lack a high degree of consensus, but because the Democrats had successfully
focused debate on the economy. Economic issues have always been the glue holding
together the diverse Democratic "New Deal" coalition. The recession of the early 1990s
overshadowed all other issues in importance. Despite value-laden appeals, economic
issues, more than any other single factor, were responsible for bringing many conservative
Democrats, who had previously strayed from the fold, back under the party banner. The
saliency among the electorate of economic and value issues raised together within the
context of the same political environment is another avenue of inquiry which deserves
appropriate attention. However, such an inquiry is beyond the scope of this research.
Value Issues and the 1988 Presidential General Election Campaign
Unlike the symbolic value issues used by Republicans in 1992, the symbolic value
issues raised by Bush in 1988 and addressed in this research reflect the widely shared
political culture orientations held by most Americans. In the context of the 1988 election
the Pledge of Allegiance issue is symbolic of patriotism, national defense issues are
symbolic of American prestige and the nation's readiness, willingness, and commitment to
protect freedom and liberty; the prison furlough and the death penalty issues are symbolic


52
of the concern for personal security; and the tax issue is symbolic of individual merit and
initiative to create wealth and ascend the economic ladder of success.7 Even though the
meanings of each are subject to idiosyncratic interpretations, respect for and love of
country, a willingness to defend our nation to protect liberty, concern for personal safety
and freedom from fear, and a universal commitment to equal opportunity and individual
initiative to get ahead are values rooted in classical liberalism and shared by most
Americans.
While the Pledge issue, prison furloughs, the death penalty, and taxes symbolize a
set of values shared by a majority of Americans, they also symbolize the differences the
majority perceives to exist between their values and the values embraced by those they
consider to be outside the mainstream: the liberal elite. "If Reagan's values strategy
represented a photograph, then Bush's was a photographic negative" (White 1989, 157).
In the political arena Reagan and his strategists chose to frame issues which symbolized
widely shared values to elicit positive predispositions from the electorate. Bush and his
strategists chose to frame issues which symbolized similar widely shared values, but to
have the opposite effect; elicit negative predispositions based on the electorates
understanding of the term "liberal."
The Bush campaign's use of issues which symbolized widely shared values to elicit
negative predispositions from segments of the electorate based on their understanding of
the term liberal is succinctly summarized by Thomas and Mary Edsall:
In 1988, the Bush campaign assembled and deployed a range of symbols
and images designed to tap into submerged concerns [cnme, welfare,
family dissolution, an erodmg work ethic, and global retreat] . often
clustering around the nexus of racial, ethnic, cultural, and "values"
7 Some have argued that the decision by an independent political committee, Americans for Bush, to
produce and air television commercials during the 1988 general election campaign highlighting William
J. (Willie) Horton. Jr., a black man who committed murder and rape while on furlough from a
Massachusetts prison, transformed the prison furlough issue from a social value issue sy mbolizing crime
and contemporary liberalism to one sy mbolizing race. The Republican campaign has consistently denied
that it intended to link the furlough issue to race citing that Horton, in either name or photograph, did not
appear in any Bush campaign sanctioned media advertising.


53
anxieties that had helped to fuel the conservative policies of the post-civil
rights era. The symbols of the Bush campaignWillie Horton, the ACLU,
the death penalty, the Pledge of Allegiance, the American flag, "no new
taxes," the "L-word," and "Harvard boutique liberal"conjured up the
criminal defendants' and prisoners' rights movements, black crime, permissive
liberal elites, a revenue-hungry state, eroding traditional values, tattered
patriotism, and declining American prestige. Themes and symbols tapping
these issues became for the Republican party the means of restoring the
salience of associations damaging to Democrats, and the means of
maintaining the vitality of the majority conservative coalition [The]
Bush campaign strategy essentially looked backwards, organized around the
conflicts and schisms of the previous twenty-five years. The campaign was
fought on the battleground of civil rights and the broader rights movements,
focusing on the liabilities that had accumulated around the liberal wing of the
national Democratic party. (Edsall & Edsall 1991, 215-216)


RESEARCH ON THE 1988 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
Much of the contemporary research conducted on the 1988 presidential election is
of a distinctly qualitative nature. Symbolic value issues are central to the qualitative
literature discussing the 1988 presidential campaign (Abramson et al. 1990; Black &
Oliphant 1989; Blumenthal 1990; Cramer 1992, Drew 1989; Germond & Witcover 1989;
Goldman & Mathews 1989, Moreland, Steed, & Baker 1991, Morrison 1988, Nelson
1989; Pomper 1989; Runkel 1989; Taylor 1990) These analyses treat symbolic values in
an historical context, merely referring to the Pledge issue, prison furloughs, national
defense, and the death penalty as pieces in the electoral puzzle which, in their totality,
worked against Dukakis. With the exception of Pomper, who does provide some
longitudinal polling data to demonstrate the saliency of the values message with the
national electorate, the other authors do not provide any substantive quantitative data to
support their conclusions that the Pledge of Allegiance, prison furloughs, national defense,
the death penalty and other value-based issues were important factors that had a
significant impact on voting behavior. Their only contribution to the present discussion is
an acknowledgment that Bush's value-based strategy was effective in driving a wedge in
the Democratic coalition
Despite their predilection to present their research in qualitative form, these
analyses of the 1988 campaign set the stage for the current research Each author clearly
acknowledges the significance of the Republican's value-based strategy in determining the
ultimate electoral outcome and discusses the critical importance of the focus group
research conducted by the Bush campaign in determining the saliency level of the Pledge
of Allegiance, prison furlough, death penalty, and tax issues among certain segments of
54


the Democratic coalition, notably working and middle class Democrats who had
previously supported Ronald Reagan.
55
The pool of quantitative research discussing the impact symbolic value issues had
on the 1988 electorate is not as broad as that of qualitative research. However, some of
the research that is available suggests that issues with distinct shared-values appeals were
successful in achieving electoral movement with some segments of the 1988 electorate.
A recent study of the Pledge of Allegiance issue demonstrated that Bush's strategy
affected the voting behavior of those w ithin the electorate who viewed the issue of
patriotism in strictly symbolic and emotional terms (Sullivan, Fried, & Dietz 1992).
To arrive at their conclusion Sullivan and his associates used 0 methodology to
identify five categories of patriotism: (1) iconoclastic patriotsthose who reject purely
symbolic and emotional appeals and instead express their love of country through working
towards economic and political change and engaging in civic and community activities; (2)
symbolic patriotsthose w ho distinguish their love of country by strong emotional
reverence to traditional patriotic symbols, rituals, and slogans, (3) instinctive
environmental patriotsthose who distinguish their love of country through deep respect
for the preservation of the nation's natural resources for the enjoyment of future
generations; (4) capitalistic patriotsthose, who blend love of country with economic
growth so that future generations may enjoy a more productive nation; and (5) symbolic
national patriotismthose who view America as infallible, first among nations, and God's
chosen country.
Using panel studies conducted in May/June 1988 and November 1988, Sullivan
and company employed R methodology to analyze the effects the Pledge issue had on


56
candidate choice in a subnational universe of Minnesota voters.1 The evidence suggests
that symbolic and instinctive environmental patriots were the categories most positively
influenced by Bush's campaign strategy. Bush experienced a 15% gain among symbolic
patriots and a 17% gain among instinctive environmentalists. Sullivan admits that Bush's
emphasis during the campaign on Governor Dukakis' lack of attention toward the
environmental problems that beset Boston harbor, rather than the Pledge issue itself, may
have enhanced the vice president's appeal among the latter group
Other quantitative research concludes that issues, rather than image considerations,
propelled Bush to victory (Gopoian 1993). Using ANES 1988 election data and a logistic
regression model J David Gopoian argues that redistributive issues, not Dukakis' image,
played a critical role in Bush's success.
What Gopoian's analysis fails to address is Zaller's contention that various values
dimensions, when linked together, form ideologies. Many voters perceive an inherent
relationship between redistributive value-based issues and the popular image of liberalism
For many voters candidates who support wealth redistribution policies are liberals. This
relationship is conversely true. If a candidate is perceived as a liberal then it is easy for
voters to identify that candidate with redistributive policies.
Voters who said they supported Bush on the basis of redistributive policy
considerations (according to Gopoian, 65.2% of the 27.5% of the electorate that based
their decisions on redistributive issues) may have done so because they cognitively
1 At first the analysts used O methodology to identify alternative understandings of patriotism. This
methodology is used to maximize diversity however at the expense of randomness and sample size.
In this study n=43. To solve this problem so generalizations could be made regarding individuals' sub
jective conceptualizations and their other political attitudes and behaviors, Sullivan and associates used
an R methodology survey (n=400) of the broader community. A questionnaire was designed which asked
people to respond to the statements that best distinguished the respective patriotism perspectives elicited
from the 0 analy sis. They assigned survey respondents to a particular patriotism perspective based on the
match betw een their response profile and each of the five perspectives. The survey also included items
designed to validate the strategy for assigning respondents to patriotism perspectives, compared results
obtained using R methodology with those obtained by a more traditional patriotism scale, explored the
extent to which varying reactions to current political issues had their roots in differing views about
patriotism, and assessed the political consequences, particularly in the 1988 election, of the diversity of
patriotism perspectives (Sullivan. Fried & Dietz 1992. pp. 217-219).


57
perceived an image of Dukakis as a liberal. How could these voters have arrived at the
conclusion that Dukakis was a liberal? Because of the Bush campaign's efforts at using
the Pledge issue, prison furloughs, the death penalty, national defense, and taxes in
defining Dukakis as a dangerous "radical" liberal who did not share the mainstream
values of a majority of Americans. The following model explains the logic:
Further analysis needs to be conducted to clarify whether voters citing
redistributive issues considerations in making their electoral choice supported Bush
because of his position on these issues or because of their perceptions of Dukakis as a
liberal If evidence shows voters who chose Bush on the basis of redistributive issues did
so because of possessing a liberal image of Dukakis then Gopoian needs to reassess his
model allowing for the possibility that additional intervening variables may have influenced
the electorate's ideological image of the Democratic candidate which in turn may have
affected voting behavior.


THE 1988 PRESIDENTIAL GENERAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN:
THE GENESIS OF THE REPUBLICAN STRATEGY
The 1988 presidential election was Michael Dukakis' to lose. Following a
universally acclaimed convention performance, the Democratic nominee surged to a 17
point lead in national polls. Dukakis' only obstacle on the road to the White House was
his Republican opponent, George Bush. Bush, a two term incumbent vice president,
entered the general election campaign with major handicaps. Even as Bush reached the
pinnacle of .American political power, there remained much public and private skepticism
about him. A 1987 poll completed by Reagan pollster Richard Wirthlin confirmed this
feeling. More than a third of Republicans said, "there is just something about Bush that
bothers me (Goldman & Mathews 1989, 26). To further complicate matters for the vice
president, the media had successfully characterized him as a "wimp." The result, after
eight faithful years of service to Ronald Reagan, George Bush was perceived to be a
weak, indecisive leader without an agenda or an ideology. On the road to the Oval Office,
George Bush's major liability was himself. Even history seemed to be against him. No
incumbent vice president since Martin Van Burn in 1836 had succeeded in winning the
White House.
Unlike Bush, Dukakis was generally unknown to much of the electorate.
However, detailed polling had shown that despite the public's lack of familiarity with the
Democratic nominee they preferred Dukakis over Bush precisely because of what they did
not like about the vice president. An ABC News Washington Post poll found that 57% of
Dukakis supporters said that they planned to vote for him mainly because they were
against Bush (Germond & Witcover 1989, 156). Furthermore, a CBS News New York
Times poll found that two-thirds of the conservatives surveyed did not perceive the
58


59
Massachusetts Democrat as a liberal and among this electoral subgroup Dukakis was
running even with Bush (Germond & Witcover 1989, 157) And polls showed that
conservative Democrats, the electoral group that formed an integral part of Ronald
Reagan's coalition and was vital to Bush's success, were returning home and supporting
Dukakis (White 1989, 152). In essence, the Massachusetts governor enjoyed the electoral
benefit of doubt associated with anonymity.
At the outset of the general election campaign Bush's negative ratings hovered
near 40% (Goldman & Mathews 1989, 299). Roger Ailes, Bush's media consultant,
believed that they could lower the vice president's negatives, however, in order to win, the
campaign would have to raise public doubts about Dukakis. Realizing that many voters
perceived Dukakis as a "tabula rasa" or blank slate. Bush strategists theorized that they
could persuade specific segments of voters to choose Bush if they could define Dukakis to
the electorate in such a way as to give them a reason to dislike the Democratic nominee
even more. With this in mind Bush campaign manager Lee Atwater enlisted the help of
Jim Pinkerton, the campaigns director of research, to uncover issues which would
mortally wound the Massachusetts governor. In a testament to the era of "sound-bite"
politics Atwater's only instructions to Pinkerton were that his findings and their
explanations had to fit in a space no larger than a 3 x 5 index card!
A 26 year political veteran, Dukakis' record naturally became the focal point of
Pinkerton and his staff's efforts to find and identify issues that could be used against the
Massachusetts governor Dukakis began his political career in 1962 when he was elected
to the state legislature. During his subsequent years in the political arena Dukakis had
only lost a contest for elective office once; his bid for renomination in the 1978
Democratic gubernatorial primary .1 It was through careful analysis of Dukakis' 1978
1 As a single candidate or the head of a team ticket Dukakis was defeated only once (the 1978 Democratic
gubernatorial primary ) prior to his 1988 loss to George Bush (losses during the 1988 presidential primary
season excluded) The only exception was in 1970 when Michael S. Dukakis was the Democratic
nominee for lieutenant governor on a tandem ticket headed by then Boston Mayor Kevin H. White. The


60
defeat and the reasons for his loss that would provide the Bush team with the framework
and direction to formulate their strategy against the Democratic nominee
The 1978 Massachusetts Democratic Gubernatorial Primary:
A King Dethrones the Duke
As the 1978 election year dawned, Governor Dukakis appeared to be well-
positioned for reelection Nature even cooperated with the governor. An unusually
potent February ice storm paralyzed a large portion of Massachusetts. Schools, mass
transportation, and other vital public and municipal services, were shut-down. A massive
power failure left many Bostonians without heat. In response to the crisis Dukakis
summoned the National Guard. While citizens were buried under 27 inches of snow with
nothing to do but watch television they witnessed a governor in control. Dukakis,
casually dressed in slacks and a sweater, calmed and reassured the public, explained
developments, and informed people of what was being done to bring relief to those in
need. A more effective kickoff for the reelection campaign could hardly have been
imagined. Estimates of the amount of free television media accorded Dukakis during the
natural disaster were placed at $2 million (Buchanan 1978). In a post-blizzard poll
conducted in March 56% of the surveyed voters rated Dukakis' performance as governor
as "good" or "excellent."2
The results of the post-blizzard poll were encouraging to the Dukakis reelection
effort. Equally encouraging was that Dukakis had not drawn any primary opposition that
was perceived to be serious. In his bid for renomination, Dukakis had two seemingly
innocuous challengers. The more notable threat to the incumbent came from the right in
the person of Edward J. King. King, a conservative, Irish Catholic Democrat, was the
White/Dukakis ticket was defeated in the November general election by incumbent Republican Governor
Francis W. Sargent and Lieutenant Governor Donald R. Dwight.
2 Clark University, Public Affairs Research Center, press release, 9 March 1978.


61
former Director of the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) and President of the New
England Council, a public relations firm designed to promote business interests in the
region. A six foot, 225 pound ex-professional football player, King was a political
newcomer who had never before sought public office. King's reasons for seeking the
Democratic gubernatorial nomination were more personal than political. A pro-business
advocate, King's tenure at Massport was notable for his aggressive development program
and expansion of Boston's Logan International Airport When Dukakis was elected
governor in November of 1974, environmental activists in the governor-elect's inner circle,
appalled by King's policies and tactics at Massport, successfully ousted him as the Port
Authority Director Motivating himself for the coming campaign, King reportedly said,
"Can you imagine that little Greek firing me, Ed King'7" (Gaines & Segal 1987, 158) In
October of 1977 King announced his candidacy for the Democratic gubernatorial
nomination during a press conference staged on the steps of the State House on Beacon
Hill
Dukakis' second primary challenger, former Cambridge mayor Barbara
Ackermann, attacked Dukakis from the left. An ideological, progressive liberal,
Ackermann was running to protest what she perceived was Dukakis' sell-out of the liberal
agenda that he was supposed to represent. Liberal dissatisfaction with Dukakis stemmed
from events early in his administration. Upon entering office in January of 1975 Dukakis
was unexpectedly faced with a severe state financial crisis which threatened to bankrupt
the Commonwealth. Attempting to avoid fiscal insolvency Dukakis authorized deep cuts
in social services, particularly welfare. Incensed by his "meat cleaver" approach to
balancing the state budget the estrangement between liberals and Dukakis was further
exacerbated by the governor's advocacy of workfare and his signing of a 1977 redistricting
bill which eroded the support base of many of the legislative members of a liberal policy
organization known as the Democrat Study Group (Gaines & Segal 1987, 158).


62
At the outset of the campaign the political community regarded neither of Dukakis'
two primary opponents as much of a threat. Both lacked significant statewide recognition.
In a poll conducted for the Boston Globe in May, four months before the primary, 44%
and 48% of the respondents had not heard of either King or Ackermann respectively.3
Initially Edward J. King campaigned as a pro-business Democrat concentrating on
promoting economic issues and themes. However, after several months of campaigning
King's position relative to Dukakis had not significantly changed in the polls. A survey
conducted for the King campaign in February of 1978 projected Dukakis winning 64% of
the vote to King's 11% and Ackermann's 3%, the remaining 22% being undecided.4 It was
in the late winter that the King campaign attempted to redefine their primary election
strategy. In March the King campaign sponsored a survey exclusively targeted at those
Democrats favoring Dukakis' reelection. The purpose of the survey was to attempt to
isolate specific issues which could be used to break Democratic voters' allegiance to
Dukakis. The results of the survey proved conclusive (table 1). Forty-two percent of
those surveyed said that under no circumstances could they support a candidate for
governor who opposed minimum mandatory jail sentences for persons guilty of
committing violent crimes, 36% said that they could not support a candidate who opposed
the death penalty; and an amazing 60% said they could not support a candidate who
favored abortion.
During his term as governor, Michael Dukakis was on record opposing minimum
mandatory sentences and capital punishment and in support of tax funded abortions. The
survey also showed that voters were seeking tax relief and supported an increase in the
drinking age. According to King's campaign manager, George Fratlaroli, "That's when we
discovered we could get significant defections from Dukakis if we could let people know
3 Survey taken for the Boston Globe, 9 May through 15 May 1978.
4 Survey taken for Edward J. King by Baraff. Morris, and Mercurio Associates, March 1978.


63
TABLE 1
Pre-Primary Survey of Self-Described Supporters of Governor Michael S. Dukakis
SURVEY QUESTION
PERCENTAGE ANSWERING "NO"
Are there any circumstances under which you would
vote for a candidate for governor who opposed
minimum jail sentences for violent crimes?
42% (N 155)
Are there any circumstances under which you would
vote for a candidate for governor who opposed the
death penalty?
36% (N 136)
Are there any circumstances under which you would
vote for a candidate for governor who favored
abortion'1
60% (N = 62)
SOURCE. Baraff. Morris, and Mercuno, survey conducted for Edward J. King. March 1978.
where he stood and where we stood on the issues" (Woodlief 1978). As a result of the
survey, the King campaign adopted a strategy designed to define Dukakis as a radical
liberal by focusing attention on Dukakis' positions on specific social and cultural value
issues such as capital punishment, taxes, and abortion. The principle goal of the strategy
was to prime Dukakis-leaning voters who did not share the governor's positions on certain
social and cultural issues to conclude that the incumbent did not share their values and
thus reject his candidacy. King would become the direct beneficiary as these voters would
find him to be more closely aligned with their values therefore more acceptable. The
slogan adopted by the King campaign succinctly defined their strategy, "You have a clear
choice!"5
During the remainder of the summer and early fall King concentrated on defining
Dukakis as a radical liberal through consistent and constant attempts at increasing public
awareness of his and Dukakis' positions with respect to the issues of capital punishment,
mandatory sentences, abortion, taxes, and the drinking age. Unlike Barbara Ackermann,
Edward J. King had the means to deliver his message to the voters. Of the three
5 King campaign advertisement. Boston Globe, 18 September 1978.


M
gubernatorial contestants in the Democratic field King was clearly the most successful
fund-raiser Relying on his broad support from the business and labor communities King
was able to effectively compete with Dukakis. In a statewide campaign, television and
other forms of mass communication are essential to effectively convey a candidate's
message. In this respect Dukakis all but surrendered. In media advertising King spent
$280,000 compared to $75,000 by the Dukakis campaign (Kenney & Turner 1988, 132).
On August 31st, four weeks before the primary, the three contestants, Dukakis,
King, and Ackermann, competed in the only pre-primary televised debate. From the
outset King was clearly on the offensive. Regardless of the question asked by the
moderators, King reiterated his positions with respect to his five hand picked issues.
During his closing remarks, with Dukakis conveniently at his side, a defiant Edward J
King summarized his positions:
Clearly I stand for a Proposition 13 for Massachusetts. I'm for capital
punishment for premeditated felony murders, which are on the nse in
this state. I'm for mandatory jail sentences for those who break and
enter into our homes in the nighttime. Clearly jail is the place for them.
I'm unalterably opposed to taxpayer funds being used for abortion.
I think the practice is abhorrent. And I'm for raising the drinking age
to age twenty-one. Those are my positions. Ask Dukakis his. If you
like my platform, I hope you vote for me. If you don't, vote for Dukakis.
(White 1982, 649)
During the primary contest Dukakis did not attempt to alter the dialogue of the
campaign. The incumbent governor, instead of stressing "pocket book" issues which tend
to unite Democrats, allowed King to draw him into a debate on social and cultural value
issues. Citing his "fundamentally different views" Dukakis explained his positions on
King's issues. In regard to capital punishment, Dukakis stated, "I do not believe that
capital punishment is an essential or even valuable tool in the fight against crime."6
Responding to a reporter's question on how he (Dukakis) thought the voters would react
to a Massachusetts version of Proposition 13, the California initiative to rollback property
6 Context of quote from Massachusetts Democratic gubernatorial candidates' debate, 31 August 1978.


65
taxes, the governor remarked, "Massachusetts voters were too smart to fall for a gimmick
like that" (Gaines & Segal 1987, 161).7
Dukakis' explanations of his positions on the social and cultural value issues raised
by King reinforced King's argument that Dukakis was too liberal for mainstream
Democrats. In response to a reporter's exit poll question on why he was voting for King,
Thomas Long, a blue collar Democrat, said, "Dukakis is too liberal on some items and
I've voted for Dukakis before" (Anderson 1978). Walter J Ryan, an Irish union leader
backing King, responded in a similar fashion when queried about the King-Dukakis
contest, "The way I see it . the liberal intelligentsia, the refugees of academia who have
been manipulating our lives with the bureaucracy are now on the defensive, and that's the
way we like it."8
Dukakis responses also served to focus attention on controversial and often
unpopular aspects of his record. In 1975 Dukakis had vetoed a death penalty bill and
several bills authorizing minimum mandatory sentences for certain crimes approved by the
Massachusetts legislature, the General Court. As governor, Dukakis was on record
favoring public funding for abortion. In 1977 he had vetoed a bill which would have
eliminated state-funded abortions for the poor. Finally, Dukakis' position on taxes was
well-known. After reneging on his 1974 campaign pledge of no new taxes, the public,
aggravated by what they perceived as an already excessive tax burden and agitated by the
growing "Proposition 13 fever," was in no mood to forgive and forget.
In King's opinion, Dukakis regarded his opponent's strategy as "simplistic
buzzwords designed to confuse the electorate."9 Dukakis believed that based on his
competence and integrity the voters would reward him with renomination. Instead, on
7 In 1980, two years after Dukakis' defeat. Massachusetts voters adopted a similar tax cut measure,
known as Proposition 2 1/2, by a two-to-one margin.
8 "The Campaign Quotes." Boston Globe, 5 November 1978.
9 Shaun P. Hemess, interview with Edward J. King.


66
primary election day, September 19, 1978, the voters unceremoniously "dumped the
Duke." In a stunning political upset, Edward J King, businessman turned politician, won
51% of the vote to Dukakis' 42% and Ackermann's 7%. In the November general
election. King bested Republican candidate Francis W. Hatch, Jr. to become the only man
this century to be elected the governor of Massachusetts in his first try for public office.
Post election analyses of the primary attributed Dukakis' surprise defeat to King's
strategy of dividing the electorate by injecting social and cultural value issues into the
campaign dialogue. Reflecting on the primary outcome Boston Herald political columnist
Wayne Woodlief commented, "A dogged repetition of gut-level, emotional themesanti
taxes, anti-abortion, pro-capital punishmentpropelled Edward J. King to his stunning
upset of Governor Michael S Dukakis" (Woodlief 1978).
An October survey of those Democrats and Independents who voted in the
September 19th Democratic primary provided evidence to support Woodlief s
observation.10 The poll showed that three issues, the death penalty, property tax
reductions, and taxpayer paid abortions, provided King with handsome electoral dividends
(table 2). Seventy-four percent of those who opposed taxpayer paid abortions, 63% of
those who fawred the death penalty for first degree murderers, and 59% of those who
favored a large scale property tax reduction voted for King. Similarly, those who took
different positions from King consistently supported Dukakis. Sixty-eight percent of those
who fa\'ored state funds for abortion, 67% of those who opposed the death penalty, and
61% of those who opposed a large scale property tax reduction voted for Dukakis.
Unfortunately for Dukakis, with the exception of the abortion issue, large majorities of
Democrats and Independents voting in the primary did not embrace his positions on the
death penalty and property tax reductions. Only 35% were opposed to the death penalty
10 Under Massachusetts law unaffiliated voters may cast ballots in either the Democratic or Republican
primaries.


67
TABLE 2
Post-Primary Survey Measuring Level of Support for
Edward J. King and Michael S. Dukakis Based on Support or Opposition
to State Funded Abortions, the Death Penalty, and Property Tax Reductions
SURVEY QUESTIONS
FAVOR
OPPOSE
FAVOR
VOTE
KING
OPPOSE
VOTE
KING
FAVOR
VOTE
DI KAKIS
OPPOSE
VOTE
1)1 KAKIS
Do you favor or oppose the use of
state funds for abortion for women
who cannot afford to pay for it
themselves?
52%
.V = 130
48%
V = 122
32%
/V = 42
74%
N = 90
68%
V = 88
26%
.V 32
Do you favor or oppose the death
penalty for first degree murder?
65%
.V 169
35%
.V 90
63%
N = 106
33%
.V = 30
37%
V = 63
67%
.V = 60
Do you favor or oppose a large
scale property tax reduction in
Massachusetts similar to
California's Proposition 13?
63%
.V 162
37%
.V 97
59%
N = 96
39%
21 = 38
41%
.V = 66
61%
.V = 59
SOURCE. Public Affairs Research Center. Clark University, survey conducted October 1978
and 37% were against property tax reductions.
A political environment where the electorate maintains clear preferences on
divisive issues can prove problematic to a candidate who is an advocate for policy
preferences embraced by a minority of the public. This is particularly true when divisive
issues such as the death penalty, taxes, and abortion dominate the campaign dialogue.
This was the case in the 1978 Massachusetts Democratic gubernatorial primary campaign.
Dukakis, stymied by King's aggressive strategy, did not attempt to alter the focus of the
campaign away from the challenger's social and cultural values agenda. Because Dukakis
was on the wrong side of a majority of public opinion on many of the social and cultural
value issues raised by King the incumbent's level of support was bound to be adversely
affected.


68
The October survey also indicated that King's strategy of tarring Dukakis with the
liberal label by emphasizing his and the incumbent's differences on certain social and
cultural value issues worked to isolate Dukakis from moderate Democrats. Evidence
suggests that among the major contestants, King and Dukakis, the challenger won because
he was able to forge a coalition of moderates and conservatives which more than offset
Dukakis' two-to-one win among self-described liberals." King defeated Dukakis among
self-described moderates in all but one of the demographic categories analyzed. Only
among white collar voters did Dukakis outperform King. King's largest margins over
Dukakis among moderates were male voters (16%), blue collar voters (18%), voters with
a high school education or less (24%), and voters with incomes less than $15,000 a year
(30%).
Among self-described conservatives King consistently beat Dukakis by margins of
near two-to-one or better. In only two categories of conservatives, white collar voters
and women, did King outpoll Dukakis by a 10% margin or less. Overall the poll indicates
that among primary voters requesting a Democratic ballot King won 70% of self-described
conserv atives, 56% of self-described moderates, and 35% of self-described liberals.
Between the two candidates, this translated into King winning 53% of the overall primary
ballots cast by Democrat and Independent voters who participated in the primary.
The analysis of the results indicates that King was particularly successful at
winning support from low income, less educated, blue collar, male Democrats and
Independents; voters who shared demographic characteristics similar to those voters who
after 1980 became known in political circles as Reagan Democrats. Also, King was
successful at muting any perceived Dukakis advantage among women voters. Dukakis
11 For complete statistical data concerning the relationship between voter ideology and candidate
preferences please refer to the section of the appendix entitled, "Self-Described Ideological Tendencies &
Candidate Preferences Among Demographic Subgroups of Massachusetts Voters Who Participated in the
1978 Democratic Gubernatorial Primary ."


69
could not offset King's 14% advantage among men as both he and his challenger received
approximately 50% of the primary vote cast by women
The type and tone of the campaign King waged against Dukakis did not fall on
deaf political ears. The events surrounding the 1978 Massachusetts gubernatorial primary
campaign provided clues to the Bush research team on the normative features of an
election strategy that would successfully influence certain segments of the electorate,
particularly Reagan Democrats, to vote against Dukakis.
The "Negative Cluster": The Republicans Find Their Silver Bullets
Jim Pinkerton and, as Atwater often referred to them, his group of "thirty-five
excellent nerds" performed their research work admirably (Black & Oliphant 1989, 222).
The group's inquiries into Dukakis' record and the 1978 Democratic gubernatorial primary
campaign produced seven key issues which Bush strategists believed could cripple
Dukakis' presidential ambitions. Several issues were recycled from Edward J. King's
successful 1978 campaign; Dukakis' public positions in support of higher taxes and
taxpayer paid abortions and the Democratic nominees opposition to the death penalty and
mandatory drug sentences. Pinkerton's research uncovered other issues not used by King
but potentially as lethal. These issues included Massachusetts' prisoner furlough program,
the pollution of Boston Harbor, Dukakis' gubernatorial veto of a bill mandating the Pledge
of Allegiance in public schools, and Dukakis' opposition to a host of military weapons
systems. Each one of these issues by itself was not enough to permanently damage
Dukakis. But it was believed that as a collective the "negative cluster," as they became
known, provided enough evidence that Dukakis was a McGovern-style liberal whose
positions on these issues reflected values fundamentally different from those held by a


70
majority of Americans, particularly Democrats who had previously supported Ronald
Reagan.12 According to Atwater:
The swmg vote in almost every state or certainly in enough states to get
over 270 electoral votes was conservative, populistto use a clich,
Reagan Democrats. And if they didn't see any differences or particular
differences between the two candidates, guess what? They would have
gone back and been Democrats again They're always looking for an
excuse to be, because they are Democrats. (Runkel 1989, 112)
Recent scholarly research suggests that Atwater was correct. Edward G
Carmines and Michael Berkman argue that conservative Democrats retain their partisan
affiliation because of the political ethos which developed between the Democratic party
and those working-class institutions and groups victimized by the Great Depression with
which conservative Democrats identify:
Not only did the experience of the Great Depression forge a close link
between the Democratic party and socially and economically disadvantaged
groups but it also created a distinct and lasting image of the party to its
identifiers and activists alike. The political ethos of the modem Democratic
party, in other words, should have its roots in the experiences of those
groups who were the mam victims of the Great Depression and who came
together to form Roosevelt's Democratic coalition. [Therefore] what unites
the diverse ideological factions of the Democratic party is their belief that
their party represents less privileged groups like the less-well-off, working
people, and the common man and woman as opposed to the Republicans'
core groups of business, the wealthy, and Wall Street. (Carmines & Berkman
1994, 210 & 216)
Given this situation, some scholars advise that to appeal to conservatives within
their own party Democratic candidates should emphasize class-based issues and populist
themes while portraying Republicans as economic elitists from privileged backgrounds.
Conversely, Republicans should seek ways to make ideology the focal point of political
decision-making so as to divide the Democratic coalition (Carmines & Berkman 1994,
Carmines & Stanley 1990; and Carmines & Stimson 1989).
12 The term "negative cluster is used to identify the host of symbolic v alue issues used by Bush and the
Republicans to define Dukakis as a liberal.


71
Carmines and Berkman's analysis reflects Maddox and Lilie's assessment of the
economic and ideological cleavages present within the modern Democratic party-
cleavages that were successfully exploited by Edward J. King in his 1978 attempt to oust
Dukakis from the governor's office. Carmines and Berkman demonstrate that when
conservative Democrats are compared to liberal and moderate Democrats and Republicans
with respect to economic-based demographic characteristics such as education, income,
and class status conservative Democrats are quite similar to their partisan counterparts and
dissimilar to GOP partisans. Only on ideology and issues with distinct ideological appeal,
such as social and cultural value issues, do conservative Democrats display similar
predilections as Republicans. The polarization between economic and ideological
identifications has become so pronounced that conservative Democrats can now be
regarded as "persuadable" voters. The campaign that is successful at winning a majority
of conservative Democrat support depends on what issues, economic or ideological,
achieve saliency with this key electoral subgroup. For this reason former president
Richard M. Nixon believed that if used properly "the Dukakis positions on [the ideological
"negative cluster"] issues could prove to be neuralgic for Reagan Democrats" (Nixon
1988). Therefore, Bush's campaign operatives believed that the "negative cluster" issues
would provide the strategic means to differentiate the vice president from Dukakis among
this key electoral subgroup.
To test the saliency of the "negative cluster" issues the Bush campaign assembled a
series of focus groups composed of moderate to conservative working and middle class
Democrats who had previously voted for Ronald Reagan but had stated that they were
supporting Dukakis in 1988 The most celebrated of these focus groups was held in late
May in Paramus, New Jersey. Peering through a two-way mirror the Bush high command
composed of pollster Robert Teeter, Lee Atwater, Roger Ailes, and Bush friend and
confidant Nicholas Brady witnessed an extraordinary political about face:


72
When asked how they planned to vote in 1988, a majority answered
"Dukakis," even though most were dimly aware of his background
Because these were representative target voters whom Bush had to
win, the moderator began probing for issues that would brmg them to
Bush Each thrust was parried until the moderator asked, "What if I told
you that Dukakis vetoed a bill requirmg schoolchildren to say the Pledge
of Allegiance9 Or that he was against the death penalty9 Or that he gave
weekend furloughs to first-degree murderers?" One exclaimed, "He's a liberal!"
Another retorted, "If those are really his positions, I'd have a hard time
supporting him." (White 1989, 153)
Following the conclusion of the session the participants were polled again
regarding their 1988 presidential preference. In one group 40% changed their support
from Dukakis to Bush. In another, 60% switched to Bush When averaged together,
Dukakis' support level dropped by 50%, a staggering fall-off given that it usually takes
repeated exposure to negative information for voters to abandon even weakly held
preferences (Taylor 1990, 203). In response, a delighted Roger Ailes exclaimed, "That
little computer heart from Massachusetts isn't going to know what hit him" (Morrison
1988, 223). Atwater commented, "After those sessions, I knew we had the wherewithal
to win. I realized right then and there that the sky was the limit on Dukakis' negatives"
(Taylor 1990, 203). When shown a video tape of the Paramus interviews the vice
president reportedly remarked, "They don't know this guy's record" (White 1989, 154).
Thus was born the strategy to use the "negative cluster" issues framed in the context of
widely shared social and cultural values as a mechanism to elicit negative predispositions
associated with the label "liberal."
The Psychology of the Republican Strategy
The success of the Bush strategy relies on what psychologists have identified as
the ability to influence individuals' cognitive structures and processes that in turn
influences the complexity level of their political reasoning Psychologists refer to these
influence-susceptible cognitive structures as schemas Schemas organize both memory


73
and cognition into specific thematic structures. When an individual obtains new
information, specific cognitive schemas filter, select, encode, and integrate it into new or
existing cognitive structures (Milburn 1991, 73).
Four different types of schemas have been identified and developed: person, self,
role, and event (Fiske & Taylor 1991). The category appropriate for discussion
concerning the 1988 Bush campaign is the person schema. Person schemas contain
knowledge and beliefs about typical people, their characteristics, and their intentions. The
decision by the Bush campaign and its surrogates to "educate" voters on Governor
Dukakis' veto of a bill requiring school children to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, the
Massachusetts prison furlough program and Willie Horton, and the Democratic nominee's
public record and positions on the death penalty, taxes, mandatory sentencing, and
national defense issues provided the necessary stimuli for voters, particularly ideological
conservatives, to associate Dukakis with their pre-existing cognitive structures concerning
the label "liberal."
The ability to influence individuals' schemas or cognitive structures of candidates is
often done in the context of "priming" and "framing." To engage in the act of influencing
a person's cognitive structure or schema is to engage in the act of priming. To prime is to
instruct or prepare someone or something beforehand In the psychological context, to
prime someone would require the "presentation of an attitude object(s) toward which the
individual processes a strong evaluative association that would automatically activate that
evaluation" (Fazio 1989, 157). In the 1988 campaign the "negative cluster" issues served
as attitude objects which when processed activated individual evaluations associated with
the label "liberal."
"Activating an accessible construct through priming should increase its impact over
other attitudes, judgments, and behaviors" (Sears 1993, 138). The available literature
concerning the 1988 presidential campaign suggests that Bush and his strategists were


74
quite successful at using priming to associate Dukakis, first and foremost in the minds of
many voters, with the label "liberal "
The act of priming is often done through what is referred to as framing-
packaging ideas so that within each idea is embedded a dominant frame or viewpoint
which acts as a central organizing concept or story line implying a particular policy
alternative (Sears 1993, 128) According to David O. Sears:
The frame is displayed in "signature elements" that invoke the whole package
through condensing symbols. Which frame dominates in the communications
media may change overtime as the political battle goes on. The persuasive
success of any given frame depends on the "cultural resonances" or larger
cultural themes it invokes. All this can be put in the language of symbolic
politics: each frame presents a different symbolic meaning of the attitude object,
including different symbolic elements, and its relative success depends on the
symbolic predispositions it evokes. (Sears 1993. 128)
Clearly the "signature elements" of George Bush's 1988 campaign which helped to
frame the perception that Dukakis was a liberal were the "negative cluster" issues. But
what is important to note is that Bush's strategy was successful only because of the
framing of the term "liberal" itself which presaged the 1988 campaign.


HYPOTHESES, DATA SOURCES, AND METHODOLOGY
The Hypotheses
The practical elements of the 1988 Republican presidential general election
strategy are theoretically based on the tenets posited by the theory of symbolic politics and
schema theory. Specifically, George Bush employed issues with distinct symbolic meaning
(the "negative cluster") to evoke affective predispositions based on shared values inherent
to the American political culture.
In social-psychological terms, voters' shared value predispositions were activated
by Republican efforts to influence individuals' cognitive knowledge structures relating to
their person schemas of Michael Dukakis and their attribute structures of both candidates.
To influence voters' person schemas of Dukakis, the Bush campaign and its surrogates
"educated" voters on Governor Dukakis' veto of a bill requiring school children to recite
the Pledge of Allegiance, the Massachusetts prison furlough program and Willie Horton,
and the Democratic nominee's record and public positions on the death penalty, taxes,
mandatory sentencing, and national defense issues. To influence voters' candidate
attribute structures Bush often publicly contrasted his positions on the "negative cluster"
issues with those of Dukakis.
The purpose of the Republican's education exercise was to frame the "negative
cluster" issues in a manner where voters would infer that Dukakis did not subscribe to
shared American political and cultural values and as such could be classified as a liberal.
By framing the symbolic "negative cluster" issues to stimulate affective predispositions
associated with shared American values, the Bush campaign provided the necessary
75


76
stimuli for voters, particularly ideological conservatives, to associate Dukakis with their
pre-existing cognitive knowledge structures concerning the label "liberal." Therefore, the
symbolic "negative cluster" issues served as attitude objects which, when processed,
activated individual evaluations (ideological schemas) associated with the label "liberal"
David O Sears, in his discussion of priming and framing, states that "the frame is
displayed in 'signature elements' that invoke the whole package through condensing
symbols" (Sears 1993, 128). Clearly the "signature elements" of George Bush's 1988
campaign which helped to frame the perception that Dukakis was a liberal were the
symbolic "negative cluster" issues. But it is important to note that Bush's strategy was
predicated on the framing of the term "liberal" itself which presaged the 1988 campaign
"Which frame dominates in the communication media may change overtime as the political
battle goes on" (Sears 1993, 128). George Bush was able to use the symbolic "negative
cluster" issues to stimulate negative value-based predispositions associated with the label
"liberal" because voters' understanding of the meaning of the term had undergone a major
transformation during the 20 years before George Bush and Michael Dukakis met on the
political battlefield.
The purpose of the current research is to use quantitative techniques to examine
and measure the impact of symbolic value issues on voting behavior. Quantitative
evidence supporting the theoretical framework of this analysis as it relates to the practical
strategy employed by the Republican general election campaign will be gathered to test the
following hypotheses:
The Primary Hypotheses
The inquiry seeks to answer two questions. First, did the Republican strategy of
using the symbolic "negative cluster" value issues in the 1988 presidential general election
campaign succeed in creating a perception among the electorate that Michael Dukakis was


too liberal^ Second, were the symbolic "negative cluster" value issues employed by the
Bush campaign significant in influencing vote choice in 1988
77
The first hypothesis to be tested is as follows:
Hj: During the course of the general election campaign the strength of association
between vote choice and perceptions that Michael S. Dukakis was too liberal increased
among the electorate.
The second hypothesis to be tested is as follows:
Hy. The symbolic "negative cluster" value issues used by the Bush campaign to frame
Michael S. Dukakis as a liberal were significant factors influencing vote choice against
the Democratic presidential nominee.
The Subsidiary Hypotheses
Other factors may have influenced vote choice. Two issues in particular, the
economy and experience, deserve attention as both scholars and political experts claim
each had an impact on the election results.
Paul Abramson et al. claim that voters used assessments of past performance to
make comparative judgments on how each candidate. Bush and Dukakis, would conduct
themselves as president (Abramson et al. 1990). Basing their conclusions on the theory of
retrospective voting, they argue in their study of the 1988 election that "Bush won in large
part because Reagan was seen as having performed welland people thought Bush would
stay the course (Abramson et al. 1990, 195). Retrospective voting, according to
V. 0. Key, Jr., is a process in which voters come to electoral decisions based on
evaluations of past incumbent performance (Key 1964, 1966). Key argues that when
citizens cast their ballots they engage in an act of reward or punishment based on their
perceptions of changes in their own and the nation's welfare
However, Key's concept of retrospective voting seems inadequate to explain the
type of performance evaluations Abramson et al. claim took place among the electorate in


78
1988 Key's understanding of retrospective voting only accounts for voters evaluating the
past performance of the incumbent, not the expected future performance. Anthony
Downs and Morris Fiorina offer a different perspective that accounts for Abramson's
contention that voters engaged in comparative judgments of how Bush and Dukakis
would act as president. Along with evaluations of past performance, prospective
assessments of future performance are included in Downs' and Fiorina's understanding of
retrospective voting. Downs and Fiorina contend that it is also important to assess how
the evaluation of past performance compares to the alternative offered by the opposition in
estimating future performance. In this way retrospective voters evaluate not only what
has been done, but what might be done in the future (Downs 1957; Fiorina 1981).
A wealth of scholarly research has been devoted to analyzing economic effects on
voting behavior (Powell & Whitten 1993; MacKuen, Erikson, & Stimson 1992, Sigelman,
Sigelman, & Bullock 1991; Jacobson 1990, Erikson 1989; Kinder, Adams, & Gronke
1989; Abramowitz, Lanoue, & Ramesh 1988, Lewis-Beck 1988, Markus 1988, Radclifif
1988, Feldman 1982, 1985, Kiewiet 1983, Mackuen 1983, Fiorina 1981, Lau & Sears
1981, Tufte 1978; Key 1964, 1966). Scholars have asserted that economic considerations
figure prominently in an individual's retrospective assessments. Economic issues, more
than any others, have received attention as retrospective issues (Abramson et al. 1990,
186). Morris Fiorina acknowledges the importance of retrospective economic assessments
to the electoral fortunes of political candidates:
A familiar special case of retrospective voting is the widespread
belief that members of the incumbent party enjoy electoral success
during periods of economic improvement and, correspondingly,
suffer electoral losses during periods of economic decline. (Fiorina 1981, 25)
Abramson et al argue that voter assessments of prevailing economic conditions
played a major role in the outcome of the 1988 election. They conclude that voters
thought Reagan performed well on economic matters and thus rewarded his vice president
with the presidency in the belief that Bush would continue the economic prosperity


79
achieved during the preceding eight years. If Abramson, Aldrich, and Rohde are correct,
the robust strength of the U S. economy both preceding and during the 1988 election
cycle should have benefited the candidate of the incumbent party, Republican George
Bush To ascertain the effects of the economy on voting behavior the research will
attempt to determine if the economy was a significant factor that influenced vote choice.
Therefore, the third hypothesis to be tested is as follows:
Hy The economy was a significant factor influencing voters to choose George Bush.
In addition to the economy, candidate experience may have been a salient voting
issue. The Bush campaign placed great emphasis on the vice president's experience,
particularly as it related to foreign affairs. Bush's positive paid media advertising
underscored the vice president's impressive rsum and years of service in a variety of
domestic and international positions. Several commercials highlighted Bush's career and
showcased the vice president with a host of prominent international figures including
Soviet leader Gorbachev, British Prime Minister Thatcher, and Polish Solidarity Union
leader Lech Walesa A commercial tag line summarized the campaign's experience theme:
"The more you learn how George Bush came this far, the more you realize that perhaps no
one this century is better prepared to be President of the United States."1
However, the Republican campaign also used the vice presidents perceived
advantage in another fashion. They asked voters to make an assessment of how Bush and
Dukakis would perform their duties as chief executive based on comparing the two
candidate's past national political and governmental experience. "Experienced leadership
for America's future," the visual tag line for many Bush commercials, invited voters to
make assessments of future performance based on comparing past performance and
1 The quote was used in the Bush commercials entitled "Oath of Office", "Family/Children", and
"Youngest Pilot."


80
probable performance, a schema similar to the form of retrospective assessment Abramson
et al. claim underscored voter decisions concerning evaluations of the candidates with
respect to the economy.
Sidney Blumenthal claims that "George Bush won the presidency by arousing fear
about the future," suggesting that on matters of presidential responsibility, particularly in
foreign policy, the vice president framed the choice as between an expert with an
acknowledged record of past achievement and an unqualified and unprepared novice
(Blumenthal 1990, 319).
The differences between the two candidates were more pronounced with respect
to foreign rather than domestic policy experience. Bush's stature, reputation, and resume
in the foreign arena stood in stark contrast to Governor Dukakis' lack of familiarity with
international matters. To capitalize on this distinguishing feature, the Republicans focused
their efforts on raising public awareness of differences between Bushs and Dukakis'
experience in foreign affairs. To emphasize that the vice president was the better choice
to handle such matters, the Bush campaign tied Dukakis' lack of foreign policy expertise
to softness on national defense issues. Framed as a "risk America can't afford to take," the
Bush campaign used the now famous "Tank-ride" commercial to exploit their candidate's
experience in foreign affairs by implying that the Democratic nominee's positions on
national defense issues demonstrated his naivete and unsuitability to handle American
foreign policy.
Therefore, to ascertain if Bush's emphasis on experience was a significant factor in
influencing voters to choose him instead of his Democratic opponent the fourth hypothesis
to be tested is as follows:
//_/.' Experience was a significant factor influencing voters to choose George Bush.


81
Data Sources and Methodology
The Primary Hypotheses
To test the primary hypotheses data from both ABC News Washington Post and
CBS News New York Times cross-national surveys conducted periodically throughout the
1988 general election cycle will be evaluated. Data from four ABC News Washington
Post surveys are used with the first having been completed in July, the second in August
during the Republican National Convention, the third in September and October, and the
fourth an exit poll survey conducted on election day, Tuesday November 8th.2 Data from
eight CBS News New York Times surveys are used with the first having been completed in
May and the final survey an election day exit poll.3
Two methodological approaches are used to conduct the research. To test the first
primary hypothesis which attempts to measure the extent that perceptions of Dukakis as
too liberal affected vote choice, an interrupted time series will be developed composed of
Kendall's tau-b statistics and ridit scores. The tau-b statistic is used to test the strength of
association between electoral choice and voters' perceptions of Michael Dukakis as too
liberal Ridit scores test the probability that a Bush supporter, when compared to a
Dukakis supporter, thought that Dukakis was too liberal. To generate the tau-b statistics
and the ridit scores data from the ABC News Washington Post surveys are used.
In examining the relationship between the electorate's perceptions of Michael
Dukakis' views and their vote choice, it is useful to identify important events which
2 The July survey had a sample size of 1,539; the August survey had a sample size of 1,396; the
September and October survey had a sample size of 16.898; and the November 8th election day exit poll
had a sample size of 95.167.
3 1988 CBS \rews/New York Times surveys used in this research include: May 9-12. sample size 1.382;
September 8-11. sample size 1,606; September 21-23. sample size 1.195; September 25, sample size
1,195; October 1-3. sample size 1,530; October 5. sample size 1,530; November 2-4. sample size 1,977;
and November 8th election day exit poll, sample size 11,645.


82
occurred during the general election campaign that may have influenced how voters
perceived Dukakis. Therefore, a chronological summary of the political environment
around the time each survey was conducted will be provided in conjunction with reporting
the appropriate tau-b statistics and ridit score results.
It can be argued that the 1988 general election campaign began once it was clear
who would be the major party candidates By June it was apparent that Bush and Dukakis
would be competing in the November finale. Therefore, the July survey serves as a pre
test and the September/October survey a post-test since the general election cycle began
and Bush's value-based strategy was implemented within the confnes of this time frame.
The August survey is particularly important because of the emphasis the media
places on presidential nomination acceptance speeches and the actual tenor of Bush's
address itself. With national media attention focused on the acceptance address the event
becomes a forum for the electorate to get a sense of the candidates. The acceptance
address is the first opportunity a presidential candidate has to speak to the nation as the
official nominee of his or her party. The address allows the candidate the opportunity to
define him or herself to the nation as well as a chance to define the opponent. In addition,
the speech permits the nominee to preview which issues will be emphasized in the general
election contest. For the purposes of this research, the significance of the event itself and
Bush's decision to delineate his positions with those of his opponent on the symbolic
"negative cluster" value issues provides an opportunity to assess how the electorate as a
whole, its partisan and gender subclassifications, and Democrats who had voted for
Reagan reacted to the speech, and media coverage and commentary of it, in terms of their
perceptions of Michael Dukakis.
In addition, to confirm or refute the contention that the Bush campaign
successfully defined Dukakis as a liberal, data from the CBS News New York Times
surveys will be used to show the percentage of voters who perceived Dukakis to be a
liberal and how that perception changed as a percentage of the electorate across time.


83
To test the second primary hypothesis data from the ABC News Washington Post
election day exit poll survey is used. The research will employ probit to test the
significance of the symbolic "negative cluster" value issues on vote choice. The model is
developed from a survey question that asked respondents to choose from a predetermined
list of items those issues that had an influencing effect on their presidential vote choice.4
The probit technique will be used on the following multivariate regression model
to test the significance of the 20 issues from which respondents could select that were
important in making their presidential vote choice:
Y (X + (3 ¡ X] + JCt b ... X¡ where Y vote choice, xj = abortion. *2 = the
death penalty, xj the Pledge of Allegiance issue, x _/ = the ACLU, xj = prison furloughs. xp -
the Dukakis Bush presidential debates, xj the Bentsen Quayle vice presidential debate, xg =
party affiliation, xg presidential candidate's personality. x¡g = college costs. xjj= health
care. x¡-> = the environment. xjj drugs, xjg = education, xjj = the Iran Contra scandal,
xjfi = social security. xjj = capital gains tax, xjg = foreign competition, xjg = Bush's choice of
Dan Quayle for vice president, and X2Q Dukakis' choice of Lloyd Bentsen for vice president.
In this model the variables x, through x5 correspond to the social and cultural
value-based symbolic "negative cluster" issues.5
The first primary hypothesis will be tested for the electorate in general, its partisan
subgroups, gender, region, and the Republican's target audience, Democrats who voted
for Ronald Reagan .6 The analyses of Reagan Democrats will be conducted controlling for
income, education, and class. The gender-based analyses will be conducted controlling for
race.7 In addition to those categories the second hypothesis will be also tested for specific
subnational electorates, principally California, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey,
4 The survey question considered in the probit analyses is reproduced in the appendix.
5 The surv ey question used in the research had responses corresponding to only five of the "negative
cluster" issues used by Bush: The Pledge of Allegiance, abortion, the death penalty, the American Civil
Liberties Union (ACLU). and prison furloughs.
6 Reagan Democrats are defined to be those Democrats who voted for Ronald Reagan in the 1984 election.
7 The sample sizes of the ABC News/Washington Post and CBS News/New York Times polls used in the
analyses measuring changes in voter perceptions of Michael Dukakis are insufficient to permit


84
Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas. These eight states are chosen for analysis because each
has a large number of electoral votes or figured prominently in both the Bush and Dukakis
strategies to achieve an electoral vote majority.
The Subsidiary Hypotheses
The model developed from the survey question and its responses included in the
ABC News Washington Post election day exit poll suffers in one respect. Four potentially
significant variables, two of which are from the symbolic "negative cluster" value issues
category, are absent from the model. The question analyzed does not include responses
for four issues: experience, national defense, taxes, and the economy. Each of these issues
may have had an effect on vote choice. To test the subsidiary hypotheses and assess the
extent to which taxes and national defense influenced vote choice, a new model will be
constructed and analyzed using data from the CBS News New York Times election day exit
poll survey. The model will include eighteen variable responses from a combination of
two survey questions in which respondents could select those issues or factors which
mattered most in deciding their presidential vote.8 The probit technique is again used to
test variable significance in the following multivariate regression model:
Y = OC A- (HjXj + $1X2 T-... fi[Xi where Y = vote choice, Xj = crime. Aj = taxes. Xj =
abortion. X_f = Dukakis' liberal views, Xj patriotic values, X¡j = defense issues, Xy = relations
with the Soviet Union. Xg = helping the Middle Class, Xg = the environment, Xjq = economic
prosperity and jobs. X¡ ¡ = The budget deficit. Xj2 = the vice presidential candidates. Xjg =
political party. X¡ g = helping the poor. Xjj = likeability. XJesse Jackson's role. Xjy = the
presidential debates. X/g = experience
statistically significant results controlling for black men and black women. However, the sample sizes of
the exit poll surveys used in the probit analyses are sufficient to include control categories for black men
and black women.
8 The survey questions considered in the probit analyses are reproduced in the appendix.


85
In this model variables x, through x6 correspond to the social and cultural value-
based symbolic "negative cluster" issues. The death penalty and the prison furlough issues
are reflected in the crime variable and the Pledge of Allegiance issue is represented by the
patriotic values variable. This model will not only test the significance of the economy,
experience, taxes, and national defense on vote choice but will provide additional
statistical evidence to support or refute the results of the probit tests conducted for the
model testing the second primary hypothesis.
The subsidiary hypotheses will be tested for the electorate in general, its partisan
subgroups, gender controlling for race, region, Reagan Democrats controlling for income
and education, and among voters residing in the electorally strategic states of California,
Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas..
The Problem of Multicollinearity
When quantitatively analyzing social science data it is important to be aware of the
potential problems resulting from a condition known as multicollinearity. As Michael
Lewis-Beck observes, "With nonexperimental social science data, the independent
variables are virtually always intercorrelated, that is, multicollinear When this condition
becomes extreme, serious estimation problems arise" (Lewis-Beck 1980, 58). A
procedure outlined by Lewis-Beck was employed to determine if multicollinearity posed a
problem in the current research. To ascertain the effects, if any, of multicollinearity on the
probit results the bivariate Pearson correlations among the independent variables were
examined. The correlations for each of the ABC News, Washington Post and CBS
News New York Times models were analyzed. In those instances where the correlations
were greater than the model coefficient of multiple determination an ordinary least squares
regression was performed Each independent variable whose bivariate correlation was
greater than the model R2 was regressed as the dependent variable on the other


86
independent variables. In no instance did the resulting R2 significantly approach unity at
1.0 (Lewis-Beck 1980, 58-62). Therefore, it can be assumed that multicollinearity does
not significantly impact the validity of the partial slope estimates of the models analyzed in
the present research The results of this analysis are included in the appendix.
Can Voters Accurately Report the Reasons for Their Behavior9
The Controversy Concerning Voluntary Recall Measures
The validity of the methodology employed in the current research relies on the
assumption that voters, when surveyed, can accurately recall the motives for their electoral
behavior. However, universal consensus is absent among researchers, particularly in the
field of social psychology, concerning the validity of recall measures as accurate
representations of factors that determine voluntary individual actions.
Although it seems relatively straightforward to ask why a voluntary
action was undertaken, some psychologists warn that we must treat
retrospective reconstructions of reasons or motivations with caution.
They argue that people may not be able to identify the factors that
influenced them. (Verba, Schlozman, & Brady 1995, 105-106)
The argument that people may not accurately recall the motives for their behavior
was initially advanced by Richard Nisbett and Timothy DeCamp Wilson. In their
influential work entitled, "Telling More Than We Can Know: Verba! Reports on Mental
Processes, "Nisbett and Wilson review evidence which suggests that when considering
individual's thought patterns there may be minimal direct introspective access to higher
order cognitive processes. Individuals are sometimes (1) unaware of the existence of a
stimulus that was significant in influencing a response, (2) unaware of the existence of a
response, and (3) unaware that the stimulus has affected the response. When reporting on
their cognitive processes, Nisbett and Wilson argue, individuals do not engage in true
introspection. Their reports are based on "a priori, implicit causal theories, or judgments
about the extent to which a particular stimulus is a plausible cause of a given response"


87
(Nisbett & Wilson 1977, 231). Nisbett and Wilson's argument suggests that people may
accurately report the motives for their responses despite being unable to observe directly
their mental cognition. Accurate verbal reports will occur, they claim, only when
influential stimuli are, (1) available and (2) plausible causes of the response, and when (3)
few or no plausible but non-influential factors are available" (Nisbett & Wilson 1977,
253).
Nisbett and Wilson's argument that people do not have access to cognitive
processes that cause behavior has generated a high degree of controversy among social
psychology scholars. Analysis and research conducted by other students of mental
processes challenge the arguments advanced by Nisbett and Wilson (Smith & Miller 1978,
White 1980, Ericsson & Simon 1980, Sabini & Silver 1981, Wright & Rip 1981, Kraut &
Lewis 1982; Gavanski & Hoffman 1987).
Eliot Smith and Frederick Miller question the findings of Nisbett and Wilson
criticizing their research on theoretical and methodological grounds. Smith and Miller
argue that Nisbett and Wilson state their argument in a nonfalsifiable fashion. "Nisbett and
Wilson regard both correct and incorrect reports as illustrating their position. This means
that their hypothesis cannot be falsified simply by demonstrating that there are occasions
when peoples' verbal self-reports on their mental processes are correct" (Smith & Miller
1978, 356).
Smith and Miller also criticize Nisbett and Wilson for defining "causality" in a
fashion that denies subjects under study access to information. Smith and Miller observe
that Nisbett and Wilson's claim that subjects generally did not report that their responses
to various experimental tests using word pairings were influenced by memorizational tasks
implicitly employs "an impossible criterion for introspective awareness: that subjects be
aware of what we systematically and effectively hide from them by our experimental
designs" (Smith & Miller 1978, 356). In essence, the word cause could have different
meanings to an experimenter and a subject under evaluation. "Subjects may not


88
understand the experimenter's questions in the sense that the experimenter intended them
and so may give unexpected answers" (Smith & Miller 1978, 359).
In addition to criticizing Nisbett and Wilson with regard to causality Smith and
Miller argue that additional flaws in their analysis include; (1) the lack of an adequate
description of the mental processes on which subjects cannot report and (2) inadequate
statistical tests more appropriate for testing hypotheses at the group rather than the
individual level. Reanalyzing data from a study conducted by Nisbett and his associates
Smith and Miller, using tests appropriate for individual-level analysis, report that "there is
substantial and certainly significant evidence for introspective self-awareness" on the part
of the individuals participating in the study. Smith and Miller conclude that while Nisbett
and Wilson's research is "important and stimulating ... we view their argument for the
inaccessibility of mental process as sound in its application to some situations, but their
claim that access is almost never possible is overstated" (Smith & Miller 1978, 361).
Other scholars embrace Smith and Miller's conclusions (White 1980; Wright & Rip
1981, Kraut & Lewis 1982, Gavanski & Hoffman 1987). Each conducted experiments
designed to test the ability of subjects to retrieve valid measures of prior judgments of
preference. While their experiments did not refute Nisbett and Wilson's original
hypothesis, they did find instances where subjects accurately recalled reasons for their
judgments and preferences suggesting that some motives may be more accessible in
memory than are others. As Kraut and Lewis suggest, "We have shown that people have
a moderate amount of knowledge about the factors influencing their judgments of other
people. Our data and the parallel research by White (1980) renders highly implausible the
null hypothesis that people have no introspective awareness about their higher order
cognitive processes" (Kraut & Lewis 1982, 459). Wright and Rip caution that it would be
irresponsible to conclusively determine that people do not have access to cognitive
processes that cause behavior because the sophistication of available research
methodology is limited. "Within the limits of the simplistic designs and measures that are


Full Text
THE "L-YVORD" AND THE 1988 PRESIDENTIAL GENERAL ELECTION
CAMPAIGN: THE EFFECTS OF SYMBOLIC VALUE ISSUES ON VOTE CHOICE
By
SHAUN PATRICK RICHARD FERNESS
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
1996

Copyright 1996
by
Shaun Patrick Richard Herness

I'm going to be the champion of ethnic America. And do you know why? It's because of the
values, not where you were born.
George Bush, May 27, 1988
/ didn’t realize all these things when / said / was for Dukakis. He's a liberal.
Focus group participant, May 1988
Michael Dukakis on crime is the standard old-style sixties liberalism .he has steadfastly
opposed the death penalty ... he has supported the only state program in the whole country, the
first one. that gives unsupervised weekend furloughs to first degree murderers!
George Bush, June 9, 1988
There's a wide chasm on the question of values between me and the liberal governor whom I'm
running against.
George Bush, August 1988
When a person goes into that voting booth, they're going to say, who has the values I believe in?
George Bush, September 25, 1988
I'm not (the) big 'L-word' candidate. I'm more in tune with the mainstream.
George Bush, October 15, 1988
Little kids in school have to be taught things. One of them is that there are a lot of good
people who died for this country. You've got to remember your past or you won't have
a country anymore.
Joseph Stinson, blue collar worker,
in reference to the Pledge issue, 1988
I was strongly for Dukakis . . . but I've reneged on my support for him. I don't go along
with his positions on the Pledge of Allegiance, abortion, drugs, and prison release.
Bob Willmoth, a Texas teacher, 1988
Yes. I'm a liberal!
Michael S. Dukakis, October 30, 1988

This dissertation is dedicated to my parents, Frank and Marlene Herness, without whose
support and encouragement my academic goals would never have been realized Your
patience, understanding, generosity, and love are greatly appreciated.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The successful completion of this project and the requirements for the conferring
of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy would not have been possible without the help and
assistance of a unique group of people who deserve special recognition.
In any graduate student's life, his or her supervisory committee plays an integral
role in the development and successful execution of the dissertation. In my case, I was
fortunate to have exceptional committee members who worked to assure that my
contribution to the literature was sound, cogent, and rigorous. My committee chair
Walter A. Rosenbaum and M. Margaret Conway provided outstanding guidance and
valuable constructive criticism in all stages of the project. I am particularly grateful to
Professor Rosenbaum for his willingness to assume the responsibilities associated with the
tasks of committee chair and his enthusiastic advocacy of my candidacy. Wayne L.
Francis, the department's resident methodologist, can take credit for instilling in me the
statistical knowledge required to complete the research. Similarly, Michael D. Martinez
became a valuable resource in regard to certain statistical applications and social
psychological models relevant to the research. James W. Button, an expert concerning the
effects of race and gender on politics, was particularly helpful in organizing my thoughts
and arguments with regard to the issue of crime and its effects on race and gender voting
in the 1988 presidential general election campaign. My external committee member,
Ronald P. Formisano, provided helpful insights on Massachusetts politics. I am personally
grateful for his willingness to contact his friend, John Blydenburgh of Clark University,
who generously shared survey data on the 1978 Massachusetts gubernatorial campaign.

Chris Arterton, the Dean of The George Washington University Graduate School
of Political Management, deserves special recognition for his enthusiastic willingness to
take an active interest in the project. For his counsel and friendship I am most grateful.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the contribution of former
Massachusetts Governor Edward J. King who availed himself on numerous occasions to
my torrent of questions regarding the 1978 Massachusetts gubernatorial campaign. It was
through my association and discussions with Governor King that I initially developed the
idea to pursue the topic of this dissertation.
My teaching assistant, Scott A Boyer, deserves special recognition for his
willingness not only to ease my classroom pressures when deadlines were imminent, but
for serving as an editor of the manuscript. His reliability, thoroughness, dependability, and
friendship are greatly appreciated.
As in any significant life endeavor, certain friends have played a vital part in this
project's successful realization. Specifically, my political mentor and fellow Catholic
University alumnus Mark Healey Rayder, my academic and philosophic contemporary and
fellow Georgetown University alumnus Dean M. Carignan, and my ideological counter
balance and fellow George Washington University alumnus Jane Hatch deserve
recognition for their willingness to provide constructive criticism, encouragement, and
moral support sometimes, as was the case with Dean, from half-way around the world in
Jakarta, Indonesia. My fellow graduate colleagues, Elizabeth Williams and Scott
Richards, also deserve acknowledgment for their kind advice and assistance throughout
my studies at the University of Florida. Both were an information asset second to none!
I would also like to acknowledge the Inter-university Consortium for Political and
Social Research (ICPSR) located in Ann Arbor, Michigan for providing the ABC
News Washington Post and CBS News New York Times survey data used in this research.
VI

TABLE OF CONTENTS
page
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS v
ABSTRACT x
INTRODUCTION 1
THE THEORY OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS 5
The Importance of Rational Choice Theory and the Theory of
Cognitive Heuristics to the Development of the Theory of Symbolic Politics ... 5
Symbolic Politics Theory 8
Affective Predispositions 11
POLITICAL SCHEMAS: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE THEORY OF
SYMBOLIC POLITICS 16
VALUES AND THEIR EFFECT ON AMERICAN POLITICS 21
VALUES AND THE "L-WORD,": THE DENIGRATION OF LIBERALISM 27
Classical Liberalism 28
Practical Liberalism 31
Modern Liberalism 35
American Political Culture Values and Modern Liberalism:
A Fundamental Problem for the Democratic Party 44
Values and Ideology: Is There a Connection'.’ 48
Value Issues in Other Political Contexts: The 1992 Presidential Campaign . 49
Value Issues and the 1988 Presidential General Election Campaign 51
RESEARCH ON THE 1988 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
54

page
THE 1988 PRESIDENTIAL GENERAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN:
THE GENESIS OF THE REPUBLICAN STRATEGY 58
The 1978 Massachusetts Democratic Gubernatorial
Primary Campaign: A King Dethrones the Duke 60
The "Negative Cluster": The Republicans Find Their Silver Bullets 69
The Psychology of the Republican Strategy 72
HYPOTHESES, DATA SOURCES, AND METHODOLOGY 75
I lypotheses 75
Data Sources and Methodology 81
The Problem of Multicollinearity 85
Can Voters Accurately Report the Reasons for Their Behavior0
The Controversy Concerning Voluntary Recall Measures 86
LONGITUDINAL DATA ANALYSIS: MEASURING CHANGES IN
VOTER PERCEPTIONS OF MICHAEL S. DUKAKIS 92
July 1988 92
August 1988 102
September and October 1988 105
Discussion 111
ANALYSIS MEASURING THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE
"NEGATIVE CLUSTER" ISSUES ON VOTE CHOICE 121
Results 122
Discussion 135
THE EFFECTS OF OTHER VARIABLES ON VOTE CHOICE:
DID EXPERIENCE, THE ECONOMY, TAXES, AND NATIONAL
DEFENSE MATTER0 138
Results 139
Discussion 154
viii

page
THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE AND THE REPUBLICAN
STRATEGY: THE EFFECTS OF SYMBOLIC VALUE ISSUES IN
LARGE ELECTORAL STATES 156
C alifornia 160
Illinois 171
Maryland 172
Michigan 174
New Jersey 176
Ohio 177
Pennsylvania 179
Texas 181
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS 184
Reagan, Now Bush, Democrats 191
Gender: Women Dump the Duke1 192
APPENDIX 195
BIBLIOGRAPHY 204
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 214
IX

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the
Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for
the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
THE "L-WORD" AND THE 1988 PRESIDENTIAL GENERAL ELECTION
CAMPAIGN: THE EFFECTS OF SYMBOLIC VALUE ISSUES ON VOTE CHOICE
By
Shaun Patrick Richard Hemess
May 1996
Chairperson: Dr Walter A. Rosenbaum
Major Department. Political Science
In deliberating on the cognitive processes citizens engage when making their
choices at the ballot box, voting behavior scholars have often focused their research on
rational factors such as partisanship, assessment of economic performance, and issue
specifics Often neglected by scholars in their research is the impact of non-rational
factors, such as emotions and values, on vote choice. As Jean Bethke Elshtain observes,
"For a complex set of reasons, analysts have relegated 'values' issues to a secondary and
suspect status—seen as a way to draw attention away from 'real' issues. . . But does this
distinction, with its underlying assumption that symbolic and values questions are
somehow less real than specific, limited policy matters make sense9"
The current research is based on three elements: the theory of symbolic politics, an
explanation of information processing developed in social psychology known as schema
theory, and shared values understood in the context of American political culture. The
theoretical basis for this research provides the foundation to analyze the 1988 presidential
general election to assess the impact of specific symbolic value issues on both vote choice

and voters' perceptions of Democratic candidate, Massachusetts Governor Michael S.
Dukakis. Central to the discussion is the campaign conducted by Republican candidate
Vice President George Bush. The Bush campaign used symbolic value issues in an
attempt to label Dukakis as a "liberal." Using individual level survey data, a longitudinal
analysis is created to demonstrate the effectiveness of Bush's ideologically based symbolic
issues campaign on influencing voter perceptions of Governor Dukakis. In addition, exit
poll surveys are analyzed to assess the extent to which certain emotional, symbolic social
and cultural value issues employed by Bush affected voting choices, particularly among
specific segments of the electorate judged by Republican strategists to be strategically
important to the vice president's success.
The findings suggest that non-rational factors, such as symbolic values, must be
considered as important elements in the decision-making calculus of voters.
XI

INTRODUCTION
In attempting to understand what factors influence how voters make their electoral
choices, many voting behavior scholars have focused their research on rational criteria
such as partisanship, retrospective and prospective analyses of economic performance, and
issue specifics. Often neglected in voting behavior research is how non-rational factors,
particularly emotions, affect the choices citizens make at the ballot box. Lyn Ragsdale, a
pioneer in research concerning emotional effects on voter decision-making, concludes in
her study on emotional responses to presidents that "emotions, more consistently than
issues, events, or conditions, affect the strength of individuals' approval and vote choice"
(Ragsdale 1991, 58)
Pamela Johnston Conover and Stanley Feldman echo Ragsdale's findings in their
research concerning emotional reactions to the economy. Conover and Feldman found
similar correlations between emotions and political evaluations:
Consistently, we found that emotions have a significant and strong impact on
political evaluations even when compared with the effects of the standard
cognitive variables. . . . Emotional reactions to an issue provide an mdication
of what people think about issues and potentially shape how people process
information about issues. (Conover & Feldman 1986, 75)
Despite their efforts, little quantitative research within the academic community
has been undertaken to expand upon the findings. As Conover and Feldman observe,
"emotional responses to politics are a critical aspect of political behavior that has been
neglected in previous research" (Conover & Feldman 1986, 75).
1

2
Outside the academic environment, political professionals have long recognized the
importance of emotions on influencing vote choice and voters' perceptions of candidates.
Richard Wirthlin, pollster to former president Ronald Reagan, once remarked:
You move people's votes through emotion, and the best way to give an
emotional cut to your message is through talking about values. (White 1989, 152)
If we accept the premise of Wirthlin's argument, then to advance our
understanding of how emotions affect political behavior it is appropriate to measure the
effect values have on electoral choices and their influence on voters' perceptions of
candidates. Like emotions, values have received minimal theoretical attention from
political scientists. As Jean Bethke Elshtain observes:
For a complex set of reasons, analysts have relegated "values" issues
to a secondary and suspect status—seen as a way to draw attention away
from "real" issues. . But does this distinction, with its underlying assumption
that symbolic and values questions are somehow less real than specific, limited
policy matters make sense9 (Elshtain 1989, 117)
Recently, a school of thought has evolved within the academic community which
contends that value issues are important factors in understanding political behavior.
Symbolic politics theory argues that symbols, when used in a political context, can evoke
certain conditioned and consistent evaluations, known as predispositions, which, when
stimulated, can influence individuals' voting behavior. Some scholars claim that value-
based predispositions are the most potent influences on political behavior. John Zaller, for
example, argues that "values seem to have a stronger and more pervasive effect on mass
opinions than any other predispositional factors" (Zaller 1992, 23). If this is true, then it is
plausible that symbols which evoke certain value predispositions can exert a powerful
influence on voting behavior.
To examine the extent symbols that evoke certain value predispositions influence
voting behavior, it is appropriate to analyze instances in which symbolic value issues
played a prominent role in electoral politics. Political analysts and commentators have

3
often claimed that one of the reasons why Ronald Reagan and George Bush were elected
in the 1980s was because they effectively influenced certain segments of the electorate by
elevating to saliency status issues with distinct values appeals. In the case of Bush:
There has been considerable debate over the degree to which [value] themes
used by the Bush campaign affected the presidential election of 1988. . . . [P]olls
that tracked voter shifts through the campaign clearly suggest that the . . .
social/moral/racial issues raised by the Bush campaign functioned to push
specific segments of the electorate toward the GOP. (Edsall & Edsall 1991, 225)
Martin Wattenberg observes that "rather than discussing what policies he would
pursue if elected in 1988, Bush focused on sensationalizing [symbolic value] issues that
were damaging to Dukakis" (M. Wattenberg 1995, 253). Political commentator and
columnist Ben Wattenberg opines that "perhaps the quintessential values issue candidacy
of our time was George Bush's in 1988" (B. Wattenberg 1995, 35). In this regard, the
1988 presidential general election provides an excellent laboratory in which to investigate
whether symbolic value issues are important factors in determining vote choice and
influencing voters' perceptions of the candidates. Issues imbued with symbolic meaning
reflective of widely shared American political and cultural values, such as the Pledge of
Allegiance, the death penalty, prison furloughs, a strong national defense, taxes, and the
value connotations associated with the label "liberal," played a major role in the dialogue
of the 1988 campaign.
Despite a post election report by the Gallop organization in which they concluded
that "the success of the Bush campaign was based on making liberalism, the Pledge of
Allegiance, and the prison furlough controversies salient," little quantitative research has
been conducted measuring the effect symbolic value issues had on voting behavior in 1988
(Abramson, Aldrich, & Rohde 1990, 52). As John Sullivan, Amy Fried, and Mary Dietz
observe:

4
It has subsequently become public knowledge that Bush's decision to
emphasize patriotism, defense, and the "Willie Horton" issue was shaped by
results of systematic focus group research. Scholarly investigations therefore
are needed to determine whether, as Bush's research suggested, these "hot
button" issues really did have a significant impact on voter behavior in 1988
(Sullivan, Fried, & Dietz 1992, 201)
It is the intent of this research to employ quantitative analysis techniques to
validate the contention that symbols which evoke certain value predispositions can exert a
powerful influence on voting behavior and voters' perceptions of political candidates. The
research will use data gathered during the 1988 presidential general election campaign to
determine whether Bush's use of symbolic "hot button" value issues (known as the
"negative cluster") had an impact on both voting behavior in 1988 and the electorate's
perceptions of Democratic candidate Michael S. Dukakis.

THE THEORY OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS
Introduction: The Importance of Rational Choice Theory and the Theory of
Cognitive Heuristics to the Development of the Theory of Symbolic Politics
The central theoretical foundation of the current research is symbolic politics
theory. When discussing symbolic politics theory it is important to note that two models
of voting behavior, formal rational choice theory and the theory of cognitive heuristics, are
important to the development of the theory itself Rational choice and cognitive heuristics
are important not because of the contributions each made to the formation of symbolic
politics theory, but for the omissions inherent in both which the theory of symbolic politics
attempts to address.
Rational choice theory argues that voters make purposive, goal seeking choices
based on their own preferences. Rational choice models assume that an individual is able
to rank alternatives from best to worst by having at his or her disposal all available
information to make an informed and deliberative decision. Based on their knowledge,
individuals assess their available options and choose those which they expect will best
achieve their goals. In essence, voters engage in individual cost benefit analyses making
decisions based on which alternatives provide the maximum utility for the least cost. As
Anthony Downs, the forerunner of modern formal theory, states, "a rational man always
takes the one [decision] which yields him the highest utility ceteris paribus', i.e., he acts to
his own greatest benefit" (Downs 1957, 36-37).
A fundamental problem with the rational choice method is that it assumes that
decision makers, in this case voters, have complete and perfect information to make a well
5

6
reasoned, deliberative choice. In contemporary society rich with voluminous information
sources it is a near impossible task for everyone to have knowledge of everything dealing
with every topic in which a decision must be rendered. Despite his association with formal
theory, Down's observation that "voters are not always aware of what the government is
or could be doing, and often they do not know the relationship between government
actions and their own utility incomes," sets the stage for the development of a second
model of political decision-making which presumes that voters do not have complete and
perfect information to make rational political decisions (Downs 1957, 77-81).
In the decision-making process the public does not suffer from a lack of access to
information to make a deliberative decision. Instead, assuming that the public cannot
possibly have total and complete information on all matters political, the problem is
understanding how the public makes political decisions from its incomplete and limited
knowledge of politics. This leads to a second problem, how does the public assimilate
what information it does possess to make political choices? This dilemma, known as
Simon's puzzle in recognition of Herbert Simon's research on decision-making based on
limited information and processing capacity, has given rise to a second school of thought
which argues that voters use information shortcuts known as "cognitive heuristics" to
reach political decisions. According to Paul Sniderman, Richard Brody, and Philip
Tetlock:
Citizens frequently can compensate for their limited information about politics
by taking advantage of judgmental heuristics. Heuristics are judgmental
shortcuts, efficient ways to organize and simplify political choices, efficient
in the double sense of requiring relatively little information to execute, yet
yielding dependable answers even to complex problems of choice. . . . Insofar
as they can be brought into play, people can be knowledgeable m their
reasonmg about political choices without necessarily possessing a large
body of knowledge about politics. (Sniderman, Brody, & Tetlock 1991, 19)
Samuel Popkin refers to the type of reasoning described by Sniderman et al. as
"low information rationality." According to Popkin:

7
[Low information rationality] is a method of combining, in an
economical way, learning and information from past experiences,
daily life, the media, and political campaigns. This reasonmg draws
on various information shortcuts and rules of thumb that voters use
to obtam and evaluate information and to simplify the process of
choosing between candidates. People use shortcuts which incorporate
much political information; they triangulate and validate their opinions
in conversations with people they trust and according to opinions of
national figures whose judgments and positions they have come to
know. With these shortcuts, they leam to "read" politicians and their
positions. (Popkin 1991, 7)
Therefore, the theory of cognitive heuristics argues that voters engage in a degree
of rational decision-making based not on complete and perfect information but shortcuts
which are the by-products of information gathered from everyday experiences and
activities as parent, consumer, neighbor, and employee. These shortcuts provide an
economical, efficient, and simple way for voters to gather and process enough information
to make reasoned choices.
John Zaller echoes Sniderman's and Popkin's premise that voters have limited
information when confronted with the need to make political decisions. Zaller argues that
people vary in their habitual attention to politics which in turn affects their exposure to
political information. Therefore, the level and extent of a person's knowledge of and
exposure to political affairs affects their ability to react critically to political arguments.
Because citizens do not have fixed attitudes on every political issue, they construct
opinions on the fly as they confront each new issue, making use of ideas that are most
immediately salient to them. In other words, voters construct opinion statements from
information that is at "the top of the head" (Zaller 1992, 1).
Where Zaller departs from Popkin, Sniderman, and other cognitive heuristic
theorists is his assertion that in making political decisions "[voters] possess a variety of
interests, values, and experiences that may greatly affect their willingness to accept—or
alternatively, their resolve to resist—persuasive influences" (Zaller 1992, 22). In Zaller's
words:

8
.1 refer to these factors [interests, values, and experiences]
as political predispositions, by which I mean stable, individual-level
traits that regulate the acceptance or non-acceptance of the political
communication the person receives. Because the totality of the
communication that one accepts determines one's opinions,
predispositions are the critical intervening variable between the
communications people encounter in the mass media, on the one side,
and their statements of political preference, on the other. (Zaller 1992, 22-23)
Both the rational choice and cognitive heuristic approaches to decision-making
emphasize citizens' abilities to process varying degrees of information to reach political
decisions. Rational choice theorists depict the voter as a deliberative decision-maker
objectively evaluating cost and benefits from a complete and perfect set of information.
Cognitive heuristic theorists see voters as engaging in rational deliberation but because of
an inability to consume and process all available information they take shortcuts to
complete their gaps in knowledge. What both the rational choice and cognitive heuristic
approaches fail to address is the view that individuals respond affectively on the basis of
long-held anachronistic predispositions which elicit gut-level, emotional responses from
evocative political and social objects (Sears 1993, 137). This supposition is the basis for
another model of political decision-making known as the theory of symbolic politics
Symbolic Politics Theory
In order to understand symbolic politics theory it is important to first explain what
is a symbol. A symbol is any object used by human beings to index meanings that are not
inherent in, nor discernible from, the object itself (Elder & Cobb 1983, 28). A word,
phrase, event, gesture, person, place, or thing can be a symbol. As Elder and Cobb
observe, "An object becomes a symbol when people endow it with meaning, value, or
significance" (Elder & Cobb 1983, 29). Symbols can either be referential or
condensational. Referential symbols are notational devices which serve to uniquely
identify an object. A name, label, or sign that we use to designate someone or something

is a referential symbol. The symbol has no meaning or significance beyond the object to
which it refers.
9
Objects which people imbue with meaning that transcends any concrete entity or
operation that they may serve to reference is a condensational symbol. Condensational
symbols summarize experiences, feelings, and beliefs (Elder & Cobb 1983, 29). For
example, to most Americans our national flag is more than just tri-colored cloth. It is a
symbol representing the principles inherent in the American way of life: freedom, liberty,
individualism, and equality of opportunity. Condensational symbols underlie the theory of
symbolic politics.
The basic theory of symbolic politics postulates that symbols can evoke certain
conditioned and consistent evaluations, known as predispositions, which, when stimulated,
can influence individuals' political behavior Essential to symbolic politics theory is the
notion that these core predispositions are formed early in life and shape later formed
attitudes (Lau, Brown, & Sears 1978; Sears 1988, 1993, Sears & Citrin 1985; Sears &
Kinder 1970). As David O. Sears, a researcher in political psychology, describes, the
theory of symbolic politics holds that:
People acquire stable affective responses to particular symbols
through a process of classic conditioning, which occurs most crucially
at a relatively early age. These learned dispositions may or may not
persist through adult life, but the strongest, called "symbolic predispositions,"
do. The most important of these predispositions in American politics include
party identification, political ideology, and racial prejudice. (Sears 1993, 120)
The current theory of symbolic politics evolved from two primary sources: Murray
Edelman's theory that the public is an unpredictable mass vulnerable to emotional appeals
by organized elites, and the social-psychological model of political behavior developed by
researchers at the University of Michigan which postulates that voters respond in a more
rational way to new, relevant political information incorporating such information into
already held long-term social-psychological predispositions.

In his seminal study. The Symbolic Uses of Politics, Edelman argued that the
mass public is largely disengaged from politics, concerned and anxious only about a
10
threatening and complex world As such the public is relatively uninformed about political
issues and unpredictable in its actions. However, when the public becomes threatened,
organized elites manipulate ordinary citizens by using a host of emotional metaphors,
myths, rituals, language, and other symbols which both reassures the public while
promoting the interests of the elites themselves (Edelman 1964). In Edelman's view "mass
publics consist largely of spectators acquiescent to the abstract and remote parade of
political symbols" (Sears 1993, 117).
In his discussion Edelman identifies three forms of value structuring that he argues
determines the degree of societal consensus or division which in turn influences the
susceptibility of the mass populace to political symbolism. In a unimodal structuring the
dispersion of values on one issue will often correspond in some measure with the
dispersion on other strong issues. As an example, in the United States, Edelman claims,
there is general agreement against restrictions on economic activity and opposition to a
conciliatory posture toward Communism. The extent that such overlap exists on such
issues serves to reinforce deep-seated cleavage or consensus (Edelman 1964, 175). A
unimodal structuring creates little tension because, for the most part, the public is in
complete agreement on the general policy direction of the state.
A bimodal structuring is just the opposite. Insecurity and threat are maximized by
emotional issues which cause division among the populace. Those who hold the opposing
position on the issue or issues dividing the populace are considered the enemy. Under this
"us versus them" value structuring, mass responses are most vulnerable to manipulation by
elite use of "condensational" symbols. A bimodal values structuring creates such tension
and anxiety among the mass public that rational responses are held to a minimum and
symbolic cues and assurances are avidly sought out and grasped (Edelman 1964, 177).

11
Finally, a multimodal structure describes when the populace sees merit in
alternative sides of an issue or issues. Rather than irrational fear, a search for synthesis
occurs. Alternative possibilities can be explored and the politics of pluralism recognized
In an environment devoid of fear and anxiety, the political use of symbolism is relatively
ineffective
The social-psychological model of political behavior proposed by Angus Campbell
and his colleagues at the University of Michigan focuses on the mediating role of long¬
term social-psychological predispositions in guiding citizen action (Dalton & Wattenberg
1993, 197). In their view long-term social-psychological predispositions such as party
identification, group association, ethnic prejudices, and humans' relative resistance to
change make voting generally predictable. When a person receives new political
information they incorporate that information in a systematic and internally relevant way
corresponding to their already held predispositions (Sears 1993, 119).
The theory of symbolic politics incorporates components of both Edelman's
research and the Michigan model of political behavior by focusing on the role of symbols
in manipulating the public through stimulating learned affective responses or
predispositions.
Affective Predispositions
The central tenet of symbolic politics theory is that strongly held affective
predispositions are automatically stimulated by attitude objects with relevant symbolic
meaning. In other words, standing learned predispositions are evoked by political
symbols. The relevance of these predispositions is that when stimulated they can influence
peoples' political behavior. When discussing affective predispositions and their role in
political decision-making, there are four propositions which must be considered. The first
proposition is that affective predispositions can be identified using three criteria:

12
1) Of all the individual's attitudes, they are the most stable over time.
2) They produce the most consistent responses over similar attitude objects.
3) They are most influential over attitudes toward other objects.
The second proposition contends that symbolic predispositions are acquired
relatively early in life, presumably through conditioning-like processes, and that these
predispositions have strong affective components and little information content (Krosnick
1991). This early learning yields such predispositions as party identification, racial
prejudices, ethnic identities, basic values, nationalism, and attachment to various symbols
of the nation and regime.
The third proposition follows from the second in that predispositions which are
acquired early are believed to persist throughout life and unlike nonsymbolic attitudes are
thought to be resistant to persuasion.
The fourth proposition is that symbolic meaning influences evaluations of the
attitude object. Therefore which affective predispositions are evoked by political symbols
is dependent on the perceived meaning of the symbols themselves. In the political arena
activist groups are constantly attempting to influence how people perceive an issue or
candidate. This activity, referred to as "framing," will be discussed in greater detail. At
this juncture suffice it to say that because of external influences the meaning of symbols
contained in an object can vary cross-sectionally among individuals at one point in time or
longitudinally within individuals over time. Variance in symbolic meaning, therefore, can
affect which predispositions are evoked.
For example, research conducted by Gamson and Modigiliani traced over time
changes in public evaluations of the issue of affirmative action. Their findings concluded
that public attitudes toward affirmative action depended on the affective predispositions
that were evoked:

13
"Remedial action" dominated in the 1960s and early 1970s, promoted
by civil rights advocates who contended that blacks needed to be given
extra help because past discrimination had handicapped them in economic
competition. This approach appealed to antiracist, egalitarian themes.
Over time, conservatives responded with a "no preferential treatment"
frame, arguing that affirmative action gave minorities preferential treatment;
this response appealed to the core American value of self-reliance. Finally,
during the 1980s the "reverse discrimination" frame, in which non-minorities
and males were depicted as discriminated against by affirmative action
policies, became dominant. This development continued the self-reliance
theme but added an appeal to egalitarianism. (Sears 1993, 128-129)
In addition to the four propositions describing affective predispositions Sears
argues that symbolic attitude objects create social and demographic cleavages in the
electorate, are highly salient in the political environment, retain stable meaning over time,
are frequently the center of political discussion, and are connected to a range of cognitive
elements in voters’ minds (Sears 1983). As a result symbolic politics theory has developed
a hierarchy of political attitude objects ranging from highly symbolic to nonsymbolic: (1)
political party identification, (2) liberal-conservative ideological orientation, (3) attitudes
toward social groups, (4) attitudes toward racial policy issues, (5) attitudes on nonracial
policy issues, and (6) attitudes regarding political efficacy and trust in government (Sears
1983).
Some aspects of this hierarchical ordering are unique to symbolic politics theory
and as such have not been universally accepted. Yet many political scientists have reached
consensus in accepting the argument that partisanship is the strongest and most consistent
political predisposition. Scholars have cited evidence to support their claims that party
identification is acquired early in life, usually inherited from parents, resistant to change,
and an influential factor in determining one's political choices throughout life (Campbell,
Converse, Miller, & Stokes 1960; Converse 1964; Converse & Markus 1979; Markus
1982).
However, not all scholars have embraced the rationale of symbolic politics theory.
Jon Krosnick, for example, contends that symbolic predispositions are more consistent

14
over time because the survey instruments that measure symbolic predispositions contain
less random measurement error, not because these attitudes, in and of themselves, are
more persistent Krosnick argues that the American National Election Panel Study
(ANES) survey questions used to assess symbolic attitudes are more likely to produce
highly reliable measures than questions that measure nonsymbolic attitudes because of the
scales used to measure responses (Krosnick 1991). Questions that measure the higher-
ordered attitudes on the symbolic politics hierarchical scale offer fewer response
alternatives (party identification and ideological orientation are usually coded using a
seven point scale) with wordings that facilitate clear understanding. The alternative
measure, the 100 point thermometer scale, only provides verbal labels for some points on
the scale and a calibration with many more alternatives from which respondents can
choose. Krosnick contends that increasing the number of response alternatives decreases
the reliability of the measure. Because the measures of highly symbolic attitudes employ
fewer response alternatives they are more reliable therefore more consistent across time.
Like Krosnick, Alexander Heard has been critical of symbolic theory. Unlike
Krosnick whose criticism is based mostly on methodological considerations, Heard's
criticism is directed at symbolic theory as a basis for explaining aspects of American
politics. In his discussion of party influence on political agendas Heard contends that the
dominance of special interest and issue activists in formulating party platforms "signals
that American politics is becoming more cognitive and less affective, more substantive and
less symbolic" (Heard 1991, 139). Heard acknowledges that "increasingly Democratic
conventions are ending up as contests between left and nonleft coalitions, and Republican
conventions as struggles between right and nonright coalitions" (Heard 1991, 138).
However, Heard fails to recognize that symbolic issues are often deliberately placed in
party platforms by the very ideologically-based issue activists that he acknowledges
dominate the contemporary presidential selection process. Partisan policy positions

15
concerning symbolic issues such as abortion, gun control, the death penalty, and taxes are
often focal points in the convention platforms of the major political parties

POLITICAL SCHEMAS:
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE THEORY OF SYMBOLIC POLITICS
The assertion that affective predispositions can be stimulated by political symbols
to affect voting behavior is closely related to what social psychologists have identified as
the ability to influence both individuals' cognitive knowledge structures and the complexity
level of their intellectual reasoning. Social psychologists refer to these influence-
susceptible cognitive knowledge structures as schemas. Schemas organize both memory
and cognition into specific thematic structures. When an individual obtains new
information, specific cognitive schemas filter, select, encode, and integrate it into new or
existing cognitive structures (Milburn 1991, 73).
Cognitive knowledge structures are central to schema theory (Rumelhart &
Norman 1983). As Ruth Hamill, Milton Lodge, and Frederick Blake explain:
The basic notion underlying this view of human information processing is
deceptively simple—one's prior knowledge about some domain influences
what one sees and remembers and how one interprets reality and guides
behavior. (Hamill, Lodge, & Blake 1985, 851)
Schema theory contends that received information is not simply stored as separate,
discrete facts, but organized into coherent "clusters" of new knowledge or assimilated into
"clusters" of already understandable knowledge. These "clusters" of knowledge, or
structures, provide a concordant body of comprehensive knowledge that makes new or
additional information meaningful. A knowledge structure can be ascribed to one of two
specific domains: declarative or associational. Declarative knowledge refers to factual
information which describes the attributes of some particular aspect of the world.
Associational knowledge refers to the network of interrelationships linking examples and
characteristics to schema concepts (Rosch 1975; Smith & Medin 1981, Rumelhart 1984).
16

It is these "clusters” of knowledge organized by their specific reference domains that
permits systematic information processing According to Hamill, Lodge, and Blake:
17
It is this binding of declarative and associational knowledge within a coherent
memory structure that turns otherwise disjointed bits of information into
meaningful patterns of thought and accounts for systematic effects in human
information processing. (Hamill et al. 1985, 852)
Because knowledge structures affect how people process information they
influence the selection, abstraction, interpretation, and integration of new information
(Alba & Hasher 1983). The assumptions underlying schema theory embrace the base
tenet of cognitive heuristics that contends voters engage in information processing that
economizes political decision-making. Knowledge structures permit voters to take
shortcuts by providing them the means to selectively choose some stimuli while
disregarding others and to make decisions in the absence of full information (Nisbett &
Ross 1980; Taylor & Crocker 1981).
Taylor and Crocker identify a variety of cognition functions affected by social
schemas. Schemas, they argue, provide categories for labeling people, places, events, and
processes; influence what new information will be received, encoded, and retrieved from
memory; enable inferences to be made from incomplete data by bridging gaps in
information with best guesses; provide a scheme for problem solving, influence the degree
of importance assigned to evidence used in making decisions and predictions; and generate
expectations against which reality is compared and contrasted with one's own experiences.
Four different types of general knowledge structures or schemas have been
identified and developed in social psychology: person, self, role, and event (Fiske &
Taylor 1991). Person schemas contain knowledge and beliefs about typical people, their
characteristics, and their intentions; self-schemas include information about a person's own
appearance, behavior, and self-concept; role schemas hold knowledge about general social
classifications such as age, race, sex, or occupations, and event schemas contain
information about various life situations and experiences.

The Michigan model of political behavior was a vanguard attempt at applying
social-psychological principles to political science. However, more recently political
18
science scholars have begun to apply schema theory in their research and have identified a
variety of schemas important to understanding how individuals process political
information (Abelson 1979; Conover & Feldman 1984; Fiske, Kinder, & Larter 1983;
Lodge & Hamill 1983, Hamill et al 1985; Lau 1986). Richard R. Lau used responses to
ANES surveys to identify four different political schemas: issues, groups, personality, and
party (Lau 1986) In addition to Lau's four political schemas, Hamill, Lodge, and Blake
identify two additional cognitive knowledge structures that individuals might use to
process political information: a class schema (rich/poor) and an ideological schema
(liberal/conservative) (Hamill et al. 1985). Hamill et al. assert that the manner in which
new political information is schematically processed depends on the nature of issues
themselves. "Each of the three political schemas [class, partisan, ideological] is an
effective mechanism for structuring political information, although each differs in the type
of issues that can be processed" (Hamill et al. 1985, 867). They argue that the class
schema provides citizens with a mechanism to deal effectively with economic issues and
information Partisan and ideological schemas provide an effective cognitive framework
for dealing with more abstract noneconomic issues.
Whereas some political information environments are structurally simple and highly
person-centered, most are more complex, because people are exposed to information
about more than one political candidate at a time (e g., in a debate or a political
campaign). Scholarly research has attempted to determine if a more complex political
environment affects how people process political information:

19
When individuals receive information about only one person, it
is usually assumed that this information is organized into a person
category [schema], a knowledge structure stored in memory m which
the information about the target is connected to a single, superordinate
"person node ". . . It is less clear that this person-based preference for
cognitive organization extends mto multi-person settings; other
"organizing principles" may suggest themselves. (Rahn 1995, 46)
Wendy Rahn's research suggests that under more complex conditions, memory is
organized along the important attributes on which people compare candidates (e g.,
partisanship, policies, and personality), rather than organized around the candidates
themselves (Lodge & McGraw 1995, 5). The nature of the information structure or
schema to which people are exposed affects how that information is cognitively organized
"Person-focused structures facilitated candidate-based organization, while attribute-
focused structures encouraged an attributed-based organizational strategy" (Rahn 1995,
56).
The ability to influence individuals' schemas or cognitive knowledge structures of
candidates is often done in the context of "priming" and "framing." To engage in the act
of influencing a person's cognitive knowledge structure or schema is to engage in the act
of priming. To prime is to instruct or prepare someone or something beforehand. In the
psychological context, to prime someone would require the "presentation of an attitude
object(s) toward which the individual processes a strong evaluative association that would
automatically activate that evaluation" (Fazio 1989, 157).
The act of priming is often done through what is referred to as framing-
packaging ideas so that within each idea is embedded a dominant frame or viewpoint
(knowledge structure) which acts as a central organizing concept or story line (for new
information) implying a particular policy alternative (Sears 1993, 128). Influencing
cognitive knowledge structures through framing is central to symbolic politics theory.
According to David O Sears the manner in which symbolic issues are framed affects
which predispositions are stimulated;

20
The frame is displayed in "signature elements" that invoke the whole
package through condensing symbols. Which frame dominates in the
communications media may change overtime as the political battle goes
on The persuasive success of any given frame depends on the "cultural
resonances" or larger cultural themes it invokes. All this can be put in the
language of symbolic politics: each frame presents a different symbolic
meaning of the attitude object, including different symbolic elements, and
its relative success depends on the symbolic predispositions it evokes.
(Sears 1993, 128)
There are a variety of affective predispositions which can be stimulated by priming
and framing political symbols to influence individuals' cognitive knowledge structures or
schemas. The current research is primarily concerned with value-based predispositions,
specifically those values that are associated with the American political culture and our
contemporary understanding of ideological orientations. Therefore, it is both appropriate
and necessary to first discuss what is meant by the term "values," and second, to address
the role of values within the context of American political culture and their influence on
ideological orientations, particularly as they relate to the contemporary meaning of
liberalism.

VALUES AND THEIR EFFECT ON AMERICAN POLITICS
"Values is a highly subjective term open to many interpretations. Many words
such as "orientations", "beliefs", or "principles" have been used interchangeably with the
word "values." In the context of this research values "refer to 'general and enduring'
standards that hold a 'more central position than attitudes' in individuals' belief systems"
(Kinder & Sears 1985, 674). It is our interpretation of these values that "lead us to take
particular positions on social issues" (Rokeach 1973, 13).
Ben Wattenberg, in his recent publication entitled Values Matter Most, subdivides
values into two separate and distinct categories: social issues and cultural issues.
Wattenberg claims that a fundamental difference exists between social and cultural value
issues. Wattenberg argues that social issues are generally "agreed to be both important
and harmful to society as a whole by a vast consensus of Americans" (B Wattenberg
1995, 17). Cultural issues, on the other hand, do not enjoy general universal agreement.
"There is often no consensus about them, that is, Americans often do not agree about
what to do about them" (B. Wattenberg 1995, 97-98). According to Wattenberg
patriotism, crime, welfare, and individual merit are reflective of social value issues The
vast majority of Americans love their country, agree that crime is terrible and wrong,
believe that the current welfare system is malfunctioning, and subscribe to the belief that
tangible reward should be based on hard work and educational achievement In
contradistinction to social value issues, Wattenberg argues that there is little agreement
among Americans on cultural value issues such as abortion, questions regarding sexual
lifestyles, pornography, sex education, and school prayer "There is often no consensus
because there is no agreement on the very nature of what they represent" (B Wattenberg
21

22
1995, 98). Despite these differences, Wattenberg contends that value issues exert a
tremendous influence on public opinion which in turn affects political behavior and
electoral outcomes
I suggest. . that whichever political party, whichever political candidate,
is seen as best understanding and dealing with that values issue-will
be honored. Honored at the polls. Honored at the polls at national, state,
and, local levels. Honored at the polls in 1996 and, ... for a long time after
that (B Wattenberg 1995, 10-11)
Like Wattenberg, some scholars believe values have a strong influence on public
opinion, particularly in the realm of politics (White 1982, 1983, 1989; Zaller 1992). John
Zaller argues that values have a strong and pervasive effect on mass opinions (Zaller 1992,
23). In the context of American politics it is central to understand the role American
political culture plays in determining the effect certain values have on mass opinion 1 In
his discussion of political culture, Walter A. Rosenbaum argues that the behavior of large
masses is most affected and influenced by those "political cultural orientations that are
widely shared" (Rosenbaum 1975, 7). Political culture scholars have consistently
identified freedom, liberty, individualism, patriotism, and equality of opportunity as those
orientations, principles, or values that are widely shared in .American political culture
(Hartz 1955, Devine 1972; Rosenbaum 1975; Lipset 1979; McClosky & Zaller 1984).
Political strategists who attempt to use value issues to influence the electorate have
employed these widely shared value orientations to evoke both positive and negative
predispositions. Evidence of various kinds that alters the symbolic meaning of an issue
does indeed influence which predisposition it elicits (Sears 1993, 129). Therefore, the
1 Wattenberg's definition of cultural values is not synonymous with values inherent to the American
political culture. The values of the American political culture: freedom, liberty , individualism, patriotism,
and equality of opportunity, are more closely associated with what Wattenberg terms social values. Both
social value issues, according to the Wattenberg definition, and the American political culture values are
characterized by a high degree of consensus as to their importance to society . Social value issues such as
crime, welfare, and individual merit can often symbolize values associated w ith the American political
culture.

23
manner in which symbols are used by political operatives to influence value-based
predispositions affects what type of responses are elicited from the public.
John Kenneth White, a leader in qualitative values research, attempts in his
publication. The New Politics of Old Values, to explain how and why symbolic values
impact our electoral decisions. He argues that the politics of the 1980s was based
primarily on shared values appeals:
When the Republicans identified the themes of family, work,
neighborhood, peace, and freedom in 1980 they were reiterating
traditional values. But, as White illustrates, these traditional values
also laid the foundation for the Reagan presidency. Values discussions
animated policy-making by the Reagan presidency's inner circle and
presaged Reagan's reelection victory in 1984. (Davis 1989, 410)
In his research Professor White examines the impact that consensual American
values such as freedom, patriotism, liberty, individualism, equality of opportunity, and the
realization of success through the work ethic have on influencing popular opinion. White
utilizes the Reagan presidency as a case study to demonstrate how widely shared values
can positively influence the shaping of popular opinion and vote choice:
This [book] is not so much about Ronald Reagan's presidency as it
is about how we want to see ourselves—about who we Americans are.
In this vein, Reagan provides the quintessential case study of how
widely shared values can be utilized to gamer public support and move
a nation. (White 1989, 6)
White argues that Reagan achieved his popular standing with the American
electorate because the fortieth president used the chief-of-state position as a vehicle to
connect positively with the American voters through symbolic appellations emphasizing
shared values (White 1989, 1990).
Professor White also contends that value issues can be used in a negative fashion
to divide the electorate Symbolic value issues can be used to divide the electorate simply
by controlling the manner in which they are framed so as to maximize the potential that
already existing negative predispositions will be evoked. White believes that the potential

24
for symbolic value issues to elicit negative predispositions in the contemporary political
environment is the result of the post-industrial era's changing social and cultural agenda
(White 1983). White argues that the contemporary political landscape, particularly in the
case of the Democratic party, is comprised of essentially two distinct generational
collectives, the industrial and post-industrial classes. According to Everett Carl Ladd:
In post-industrial America, the character of social classes and their
relationships depart from previous experience. Increased wealth and
increased education, together with a new occupational mix, come
together to produce new organizations of social classes and new class
interests. (White 1983, Foreword)
Often times these new class interests are in conflict with the old class interests.
The majority of non-college educated industrialists subscribe to traditional social and
cultural values: opposition to abortion, pre-marital sex, and homosexuality, support for the
reimposition of the death penalty, and a deep abiding patriotism. How ever, the new
professional college educated post-industrial class embrace positions on these same social
and cultural value issues that diverge from those positions held by non-college educated
industrialists. The result is a polar environment ripe for political exploitation.
Maddox and Lilie lend support to White's conclusions. However, their four
category typology matrix uses ideological rather than generational considerations to
classify segments of the electorate Maddox and Lilie claim that the majority of the
Democratic party is composed of liberals (30%) and populists (37%). Liberals and
populists, they argue, share common roots in "New Deal" economics. Both philosophies
support government intervention in economic matters as a means to promote individual
welfare and provide for a minimum living standard. However, populists diverge from
liberals in their support for "the use of governmental power to regulate individual behavior
so that it conforms to traditional moral and social values" (Maddox & Lilie 1984, 20).
The divergence between liberals and populists within the Democratic party is predicated

25
on two different views on the nature of cultural value issues themselves. Liberals see
"cultural issues as related to liberty and leeway " Populists join with traditional
conservatives who "see [cultural value issues] as related to license and libertinism"
(B Wattenberg 1995, 98). This difference of opinion on the nature of cultural and moral
value issues is the cause for much of the friction prevalent within the ranks of the
contemporary Democratic party:
The Democratic party will continue to be plagued by a liberal-populist
division, and will be forced to downplay individual liberties and emphasize
traditional economic policies to hold itself together. The Wallace revolt of
1968 and die McGovern movement of 1972, however, suggest that both
populists and liberals periodically will demand that issues other than
economic ones be considered. As these non-economic issues also tend
to be highly emotional--non-compromisable, such as abortion or women's
rights—the Democratic party cannot be expected to remain at peace for
very long. (Maddox & Lilie 1984, 162-163)
Recent research analyzing conservative Democrats reflects Maddox and Lilie's
assessment of the economic and ideological cleavages present within the modem
Democratic party (Carmines & Berkman 1994). In their publication entitled "Ethos,
Ideology, and Partisanship : Exploring the Paradox of Conservative Democrats,"
Carmines and Berkman suggest strategies that both Democrats and Republicans should
pursue to successfully appeal to conservative Democrats. To build consensus and retain
conservatives' partisan loyalty, Democratic candidates, they claim, should emphasize class-
based issues and populist themes while portraying Republicans as economic elitists from
privileged backgrounds. Republican candidates, on the other hand, should seek to exploit
the ideological division within the Democratic coalition by making social and cultural
value issues such as capital punishment, race, school prayer, and gun control the focal
point of political debate.
E. J. Dionne, Jr., of the Washington Post lends support to the contention that
value issues have been used to divide the electorate. Instead of eliciting positive "feel
good" appeals as White argues in his case study of the Reagan presidency, Dionne

26
emphasizes how various value issues have been used to divide the electorate by eliciting
negative predispositions through the use of racial themes Dionne observes that racial
division is not the exclusive end result of racial politics. Like Carmines and Berkman,
Dionne sees the use of social and cultural value issues, particularly race, as linked to
ideology. According to Dionne, "racial politics [are] only part of the much broader attack
on liberalism . mounted in the name of traditional values" (Dionne 1991, 79) To
understand the relationship between values and contemporary interpretations of liberalism
it is important to address the evolution of the term liberal as it relates to various aspects of
American politics, both historical and cultural

VALUES AND THE "L-WORD,": THE DENIGRATION OF LIBERALISM
Liberalism, like values, is a term subject to a variety of interpretations.
Interpretations of liberalism range from a political ideology, a historical tradition, a
philosophic theory of state, and a theory of economics. According to J. G. Merquior:
Liberalism, a manifold historical phenomenon, can scarcely be defined.
Having itself shaped a good deal of our modem world, liberalism reflects
the diversity of modem history, early as well as recent. The range of
liberal ideas encompasses thinkers as different in background and
motivation as Tocqueville and Mill, Dewey and Keynes, and nowadays,
Hayek and Rawls, not to speak of their "elected ancestors," such as
Locke, Montesquieu, and Adam Smith. (Merquior 1991, 1)
To adequately address the diverse variety of interpretations associated with
liberalism is a task beyond the scope of this research. However, it is important and
germane to the current study to discuss the evolution of the term in the context of the
American experience to better understand why, in 1988, the liberal label was perceived
negatively by a significant segment of the American populace. The term liberal has been
used in three distinct fashions to describe various aspects of .American politics. The
various pedigrees of liberalism used to describe American politics include "classical"
liberalism, "practical" liberalism, and "modern" liberalism.1 Whether understood in its
classical, practical, or modem context, American liberalism is linked to three basic value
concepts inherent to the American political culture, private property or wealth,
individualism, and equality of opportunity in a free market (Hartz 1955).
1 Modem liberalism is a term I employ to differentiate the post-Great Society interpretation of liberalism
from classical and practical liberalism.
27

28
Classical Liberalism
Classical liberalism, understood in the context of the American experience, can
trace its roots to the rise of Protestantism and capitalism and the decline of the
hierarchical, feudal social structure which dominated Europe in the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries. Two concepts emerged at this time which were central to the
development of a new understanding of humankind's relationship to society, self and work.
In the words of Isaac Kramnick:
Ascription, the assignment to some preordained rank in life, came more
and more to be replaced by achievement as the major definer of personal
identity. Individuals increasingly came to define themselves as active
subjects. They no longer tended to see their place in life as part of some
natural, inevitable, and eternal plan Their own enterprise and ability mattered;
they possessed the opportunity to determine their place through their own
voluntary actions in life and in this world. (Kramnick 1991, 93)
The writings of two philosophers greatly influenced the rise of a new theory of
politics based on the concepts of self and work; Thomas Hobbes and John Locke.
Hobbes, the progenitor of classical liberal theory, constructs in Leviathan a "brilliant
model of individualistic society . . with its vision of human beings as self-moving,
self-directing independent machines, constantly competing with one another for power,
wealth, and glory" (Kramnick 1991, 93). According to Hobbes, a person's value or worth
is determined by their individual efforts. Wealth is accumulated in accordance with the
degree of one's work. However, Hobbes argues, the products of one's work are not
secure as competing individuals are constantly threatening its preservation. Because of
this threat, the Hobbesian philosophy argues, peoples' actions are driven by their desire for
self-preservation. Humans are bom into a state of nature where anarchy and terror reign.
To Hobbes, the state of nature is akin to a state of war of every person against every
person, in which their lives are "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short" (Portis 1994, 86).
Because the human passion of fear and desire for self-preservation are so strong, people

29
overcome their natural bellicose tendencies and enter into a social contract or government
to provide them with protection against those who would willingly harm them.
John Locke, in his Treatise on Civil Government, embraces the Hobbesian
concepts of the state of nature and the social contract. However, unlike Hobbes, the
Lockean natural state is not characterized by rampant lawlessness:
Instead of being ruled by anarchy and terror, humans pursue their individual
interests with respect for one another's rights and even cooperate with one
another when their interests overlap In other words, the state of nature, a
state without political authority, would not necessarily be a state of war.
Instead, it would be governed by rules of reason that constitute the laws
of nature. (Portis 1994, 97)
While humans are born free and equal into the state of nature, Locke argues that it
is not a state of license. Natural law dictates that people should not harm one another in
terms of their life, health, liberty, or property. Realizing that in an environment where
people will not always agree on the meaning of natural law each individual would be free
to interpret and execute the law of nature in their own selfish fashion. Therefore, Locke
claims, people would be willing to sacrifice the freedom to exercise the law of nature
individually and enter into social contracts to guarantee the security and protection of their
rights to life, liberty, and property. The authority to exercise power would be granted to a
government whose legitimacy rests with the consent of the governed. The government
would enjoy the consent of the governed as long as the government functions to protect
the rights and property of individual members of society. If the government should fail to
perform its contractual function, then the populace as a whole can withdraw its consent
and dissolve the government.
Essential to understanding Locke's philosophy is his concept of property. Like
Hobbes, Locke believes that property or wealth is accumulated according to each
individual's labor. In Locke's state of nature everyone is free to accumulate property.
However, often times property is accumulated in disproportionate amounts. Necessary to
Locke's discussion of property is the concept of equal opportunity. Everyone, Locke

30
argues, has equal opportunity to accumulate property but the fruits of possession are
contingent on individual initiative and degree of labor. "Therefore, equal opportunity
justifies unequal outcomes" (Love 1991, 2). For Locke, the accumulation of wealth is not
unethical or immoral, but rather humankind's God given right to use terrestrial resources
for individual personal benefit. Locke's philosophy of politics, based on the concepts of
self and work, provides the rationale to replace an aristocratic feudal hierarchy with
meritocracy, a social structure where power and influence is predicated on property
accumulated by individual initiative rather than familial status and inheritance
From the philosophies of Hobbes and Locke, therefore, blossom the tenets of the
classic liberal state, a state where free people, equal in opportunity, utilize their individual
labor to create property secure in the knowledge that their basic rights and liberties are
protected by a government limited in the exercise of its power by those that it governs.
Historical realities associated with the founding of the United States created an
environment where the principles of classical liberalism formed the bedrock of the
American political culture. In Europe, proponents of classical liberalism had to contend
with competing ideologies including socialism, feudalism, and conservatism.2 No such
competition between ideological factions existed in the United States. "America was
founded by men and women who fled from the feudal ethos of Europe, and brought with
them the liberal ideology of John Locke" (Ingersoll & Matthews 1991, 56).
Unencumbered by competing ideologies the supremacy of Lockean liberalism in American
political thought went largely unquestioned. "As a result, any thought that did not fit into
the broadly defined Lockean—liberal perspective was considered ////-.American" (Ingersoll
& Matthews 1991, 57).
The all encompassing influence of classical liberalism on American political
thought is evident in the written documents upon which the American nation is founded.
2 In the context of this statement the term conservatism refers to the school of thought that advocates the
retention of the traditional monarchical establishment.

31
Thomas Jefferson, when writing the Declaration of Independence, draws heavily from the
tenets of classical liberalism espoused by both Hobbes and Locke:
We hold these truths to be self evident: That all men are created equal, that
they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among
these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights,
governments are instituted by men, deriving their just powers from the consent
of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive
of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute
new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its
powers in such form, as to them shall most likely effect their safety and
happiness.
Similarly, the Constitution of the United States embodies features of classical
liberalism; the creation of a government, limited in its power and authority, which receives
its legitimacy from the consent of the governed through popular elections and the securing
of civil liberties through the first ten constitutional amendments known as the Bill of
Rights.
The tenets of classic liberalism were further legitimized by geographic factors.
Unlike Europe, America was a seemingly limitless territory. The untapped economic
potential of this vast new frontier supplied the means for all citizens to increase their
personal property provided they were willing to engage in individual labor The
ubiquitous generational belief that one could climb the ladder of success through hard
work, known metaphorically as the "American dream," can trace its origins to the time
when the United States was a virgin territory ripe with undeveloped economic resources
Practical Liberalism
For over a century the term liberal described, for most Americans, their unique
national experience, a nation where free people, equal in opportunity, could utilize their
individual talents to labor in the creation of personal wealth secure in the knowledge that
their basic rights and liberties were protected by a government limited in the exercise of its
power by those that it governs. It was not until 140 years after the birth of the .American

32
nation that the foundation was laid for the meaning of liberalism to be extended and
ultimately transformed into its contemporary interpretation. The transformation of the
meaning of liberalism can be traced to the national economic crisis of the 1930s and
Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt's controversial program, known as the New
Deal, that was designed to address the country's economic hardships resulting from the
Great Depression It was during this period, as Theda Skocpol observes, that liberalism
emerged as an "explicit political stance defined in opposition to conservatism" (Skocpol
1983, 87).
The New Deal advocated federal government intervention in economic markets
and society in general "to promote the rights and welfare of nonprivileged groups and to
ensure socioeconomic security and political stability for the nation as a whole" (Skocpol
1983, 87). To advance the New Deal in an anti-statist political system Roosevelt
deliberately engaged in a public relations campaign that utilized the public's positive
understanding of classical liberalism to effectively communicate an acceptable meaning
and purpose of his domestic agenda. "During the grave crisis of the Depression, Franklin
Roosevelt needed a new political label to symbolize the 'bold, persistent experimentation'
of the New Deal" (Skocpol 1983, 87).
Research conducted by Ronald Rotunda demonstrates that Roosevelt deliberately
chose the label "liberal" over other alternatives to describe the New Deal. "Prior to the
1930s, 'liberalism' had been used occasionally as a synonym for 'progressivism'" (Skocpol
1983, 87). Roosevelt and his advisors rationalized the use of the term because they
believed the association with progressivism would help enlist progressive political support.
However, the association was ambiguous enough to allow the president to pursue
innovative domestic programs. The common understanding of the term "liberal" provided
two additional benefits to Roosevelt. First, it helped to counter arguments that his
domestic agenda was, by its nature, socialist. And second, it aided in competing with

33
Herbert Hoover and other conservative anti-statist critics for the claim of best representing
the traditional American values of individualism and liberty:3
Their government activism, New Deal liberals asserted, better protected
democratic liberties and individual well-being and [equal] opportunity than
did the cold-hearted, laissez-faire pieties of conservatism . . Their nascent
welfare state, New Dealers told Americans, was not an attack on basic
American values that conservatives were saying it was, rather merely an
excellent instrument for furthering those values by avoiding anarchy or
dictatorship in the Depression crisis, striking down the excessive
privileges and power of "economic autocrats," and relieving economic
necessity so that Americans in distress could really be free and exercise
their rights to equality of opportunity . . . New Dealers turned to this
instrumental justification for their welfare-state reforms, tying them to
established values of healthy market capitalism, individual rights, and
equality of opportunity, precisely because New Dealers felt ideologically
pressured from the right from 1934 on. They were operating in an
individualist and anti-statist political system, and they were facing
increasingly vociferous conservative opponents with many political levers
at their disposal in Congress and in the Democratic [and Republican]
parties. (Skocpol 1983, 87 & 95)
Franklin Roosevelt and his supporters exploited the positive connotations of
classical liberalism for the purpose of advancing public acceptance of their innovative and
controversial domestic program, the New Deal. In the process, Roosevelt and his
supporters transformed the meaning of liberalism by framing the term as a label to describe
a governmental posture which embraced active intervention in the economy and society
"to promote the rights and welfare of nonprivileged groups and to ensure socioeconomic
security and political stability for the nation as a whole" (Skocpol 1983, 87). In addition,
the New Dealer's use of liberal to describe their domestic program forever linked the term,
for better or worse, to the Democratic party. To differentiate classical liberalism from
Roosevelt's interpretation Samuel Beer labels FDR's version "practical liberalism":
3 Theda Skocpol observes in her footnote concerning Ronald Rotunda's research that initially right-wing
critics of the New Deal insisted upon calling themselves "the true liberals." However, beginning in the
late 1930s they accepted the label "conservative" for their position.

34
It is from the New Deal that liberalism in its contemporary American usage
has acquired its principal meaning. . . The liberalism that has been a really
significant power in American politics, both as a set of ideas and a social
force, has been .the practical liberalism brought into existence by the New
Deal. And the stress on economic balance and economic security that was
characteristic of the New Deal remained essential to the meaning of liberalism
in its later embodiments in Truman's Fair Deal and the programs of the
Kennedy-Johnson administrations. (Beer 1965, 145-146)
FDR's marriage of convenience between practical and classical liberalism did not
eliminate the distinct contradictions that exist between both interpretations. Practical
liberalism's principle that the state has an obligation to provide for society's less fortunate
is in direct contention with particular tenets of classical liberalism that form an integral
part of the American political culture; the values of individual self reliance and work.
Initially practical liberalism was able to avoid direct confrontation with the American
cultural ethos on the political battlefield only because political and historical circumstances
permitted the general populace to improve their personal financial condition. Specifically,
during the 1940s through the early 1960s the state could finance a relative redistribution
of wealth out of an expanding pool of resources so that no one would suffer an absolute
decline in their standard of living (Lasch 1983, 105). As Christopher Lasch observes.
During World War II, at the height of the [practical] liberal era, the American
government achieved a modest redistribution of income in a climate of rapid
economic growth, not by setting a limit on earnings but by the simple
expedient of allowing "the rich to get richer at a somewhat slower rate than
it allowed the poor to get richer." As a result, the "share of national income
held by the richest 5% of the people declined from 23.7% to 16.8%," while
the number of families under $2,000 fell by more than half. The political
compromises available in a more expansive era are most vividly conveyed
by the statistic that the poorest fifth increased its income by 68% between
1941 and 1945, while the income of the upper fifth increased by only 20%.
(Lasch 1983, 105-106)
It is now commonly accepted that the New Deal failed to bring full national
economic recovery to America. Recovery only came with the economic expansion
attributable to World War II (Skocpol 1983, 90). However, FDR was all too happy to
credit practical liberalism embodied in his New Deal policies for saving America from the
economic quagmire. The perception of programmatic success represented by increased

35
personal wealth and income forged an alliance between middle, working, and lower class
Americans which translated into a formidable electoral coalition. .Any grievances brought
to the ballot box by wealthy Americans who witnessed the growth of their incomes decline
during Roosevelt's presidency were far outnumbered by the beneficiaries of the New Deal,
the coalition of middle, working, and lower class Americans.
The alliance between middle, working, and lower class Americans continued as
long as economic growth permitted personal wealth and income to increase for the vast
majority of Americans. However, economic expansion is not permanent. The
tenuous alliance between middle income and poor, nonprivileged groups, forged by
economics, was under constant threat by the contradictions between practical liberalism
and the values of American political culture embodied in the tenets of classical liberalism:
The point is that economic expansion helped to smooth over the underlying
conflicts of a liberal society, between individual liberty and social justice,
property and economic equality. . [Practical] liberals repeatedly had to face
the possibility that a day of reckoning might be approaching in which the
contradictions at the heart of [practical] liberal democracy could no longer
be evaded. (Lasch 1983, 106)
The events of the 1960s and 1970s, both foreign and domestic, would herald the
predicted day of reckoning for FDR's practical liberalism and the electoral coalition it
forged.
Modern Liberalism
No single event provided the catalyst to initiate the third transformation of the
meaning of liberalism; the interpretation referred to as "modem" liberalism. Rather,
several historical, social, and political events, occurring over a period of two decades,
intertwined to contribute to the transformation of the term into the contemporary
pejorative interpretation currently embraced by large segments of the American electorate.
The impact the Vietnam war, economic stagnation, the civil and minority rights

36
movements, and President Lyndon Johnson's social program, known as the Great Society,
had on the issues of taxes, rights, and race as they relate to values inherent in the
American political culture would, in turn, have a profound effect on the meaning of
liberalism.
The twenty years following World War II witnessed the most sustained period of
economic growth in American history (Lasch 1983, 109). The only world power to
escape the war with its domestic infrastructure unscathed, the United States dominated the
post war global economy. However, by the 1970s, American economic strength was in
question and the nation's dominance of the world economy was at risk. The expansive
economy that had characterized the forties, fifties, and much of the sixties had begun to
contract. In large measure, the economic downturn was attributable to the huge level of
defense spending associated with the Vietnam war, increased foreign competition, and
rising petroleum prices resulting from the Arab oil embargo of the early 1970s.
Practical liberalism's commitment to promote the rights and welfare of
nonprivileged groups had, by the sixties, adopted the causes of civil and minority rights
and the battle against domestic poverty. While the seeds of economic stagnation were
being sown, President Lyndon Johnson, in the aftermath of his landslide 1964 election
victory, launched an extensive domestic program, known as the Great Society, to address
the nation's social problems. Johnson's Great Society included policies designed to
eradicate domestic poverty through promoting social welfare programs, the broadening of
the Social Security system, increased aid to education, and the adoption of the
Medicare/Medicaid programs. The Great Society not only expanded the federal
government's role in domestic affairs but increased the national government's domestic
financial commitments.
The contracting economy spurred by increased foreign competition, the recession
of 1973-74 that resulted from the Arab oil embargo, and the nation's extensive military
commitments produced high inflation that shrank the national tax base creating a severe

37
strain on the federal government's ability to meet its financial obligations, both foreign and
domestic. Ultimately, the financial burden of funding both the war effort and Johnson's
expansive social programs fell upon the inflation strapped working and middle classes in
the form of tax increases. Despite paying higher taxes, the working and middle classes
received minimal benefit from the broad range of government policies they were being
asked to finance:
[Fjederal spending placed a heavy burden on the taxpayers who could
least afford to bear it, or in any case enjoyed the fewest measurable benefits
from this spending. The working class and the lower middle class have been
taxed to support programs that benefited the poor and the rich (Lasch 1983, 110)
The perception among many working and middle class Americans that they were
funding programs without receiving any direct benefit was compounded by a growing
sentiment that the very programs for which they were paying advantaged people who were
unwilling to contribute to their own economic well-being. The belief that many federal aid
recipients were enjoying "something for nothing" fostered strong negative sentiments
against the Great Society welfare programs among many "economically-strapped"
working and middle class Americans. A large segment of the working and middle class
felt that the legal and bureaucratic structure of the Great Society welfare-state encouraged
the existence of a double standard. Many in the working and middle classes believed that
they were unfairly expected to adhere to the cultural principles of individual initiative and
hard work to get ahead, while others were exempt from them. The working and middle
classes, through hard work and self-reliance, were creating wealth only to see it
redistributed through excessive taxation for the benefit of those who they perceived to be
unwilling to exercise individual initiative to get ahead; and they resented it.
The crux of working and middle class anger concerning the welfare state is
embodied in the feelings of Louise Renaud, a teacher living in Detroit, Michigan. During
the 1960s Louise worked as a secretary while attending college at night studying for her

38
degree in education. By 1972 she had graduated and was earning $9,000 a year as a
teacher, a 30 percent increase in her annual salary as compared to when she was employed
as a secretary Despite her pay increase Louise could not afford to purchase expensive
designer jeans. Yet, in her classroom Louise taught students from welfare families
wearing the same jeans she herself could not afford. "It was the straw that broke the
camel's back," said Louise. "I would see the kids, whose families were on AFDC, walking
around in designer jeans, silk shirts, alligator shoes. And I'm breaking my buns. What the
hell is going on? I can't afford that" (Brown 1991, 14).
In the eyes of some voters, particularly those in the working and middle classes,
the welfare policies of the Great Society benefited individuals who were increasingly seen
as undeserving because they refused to help themselves. The perception among many
working and middle class voters, particularly whites, that some in the United States were
benefiting at the expense of others without adhering to the tenets of American political
culture was further exacerbated by the civil and minority rights movements.
The roots of the modern civil rights movement can be traced to FDR's New Deal
commitment to provide for those at the bottom of the economic and social ladder.
Initially, the civil rights movement focused on government guarantees of fundamental
citizenship rights for blacks such as the right to vote and the right to equal opportunity.
However, following the dramatic events of 1964 the focus of civil rights shifted from one
emphasizing equality of opportunity to the advancement of "broader goals emphasizing
equal outcomes or results for blacks, often achieved through racial preferences" (Edsall &
Edsall 1991, 7). It was this change in focus and the perceptions it fostered that would
significantly impact the meaning of liberalism.
The torch of civil rights was carried by Roosevelt's practical liberal Democratic
successors, Presidents Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson. Influenced by the growing
political clout of black Americans, the increasing opposition to segregation from large
segments of northern whites, and the growing dependence of northern city political bosses

39
on the black vote, the Democratic party became the institutional vehicle for the promotion
of civil rights.4 By 1948 the national Democratic party had firmly committed itself to
promoting the cause of civil rights. Over the objection of many southern Democrats, the
1948 Democratic convention platform consigned the party "to continuing efforts to
eradicate all racial, religious, and economic discrimination" (Key 1949, 335). The national
Democrats commitment to civil rights spanned the 1950s culminating in the Civil Rights
Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the two strongest pieces of civil rights
legislation ever enacted. At the time, the long term residual effects of the legislation may
have been unseen. However, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 represented the clear
demarcation between the concept of civil rights based on equal opportunity and civil rights
premised on equal outcomes. Specifically, the landmark legislation declared entrenched
segregation in the South illegal, provided the United States Attorney General with the
power to file suit against segregated school systems, prohibited segregation in public
facilities, barred discrimination in the work place based on race, and provided for the
termination of federal funds to schools, hospitals, and other institutions that engaged in
discriminatory practices (Edsall & Edsall 1991, 35).
The debate over rights was not limited strictly to eradicating social injustices
associated with black Americans. Another feature of the rights movement included "the
establishment of new rights and government guarantees for previously marginalized,
stigmatized, or historically disenfranchised groups" such as homosexuals, advocates of
"alternative life-styles," feminists, criminals, and ethnic minorities (Edsall & Edsall 1991,
8). Often unpopular with traditional constituencies, the advancement of the goals of many
racial and minority groups could not be achieved through positive influence of public
4 Whites, particularly those residing in the north, were generally supportive of civil rights as long as it
was perceived to be promoting equality of opportunity rather than economic equality. The non-southern
white electorate in the early and mid-1960s strongly endorsed the non-violent civil rights movement. In
both February 1964 and March 1965, the Gallup poll found that 72 percent of whites outside the South
thought Johnson was pushing civil rights "about right" or "not fast enough," and only 28 percent who
thought that the president was moving "too fast" (Edsall & Edsall 1991, 36).

40
opinion. "Women, blacks, the elderly, Mexican-Americans, homosexuals, single parents,
advocates of'alternative life-styles' all perceive, quite correctly, that the ends they seek are
unpopular with the masses of voters" (Lasch 1983, 112). Unable to secure their goals in
the court of public opinion, racial and minority groups pursued juridical and bureaucratic
solutions to achieve their purposes. The court imposed solutions implemented by
bureaucratic means, such as affirmative action, employment quotas, and laws prohibiting
discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, have not been warmly received by
segments of the white working and middle class communities who perceive such solutions
as counter to traditional methods of advancement based on hard work and individual
initiative and traditional moral codes.
Before the enactment of the landmark civil rights legislation, the public perceived
little difference between the two political parties on issues of race and rights. However,
after 1964 the public's perception of the dissonance between the parties on issues of race
grew dramatically:
As recently as 1962, when respondents were asked which party "is more
likely to see to it that Negroes get fair treatment in jobs and housing?" 22.7
percent said Democrats, 21.3 percent said Republicans, and 55.9 percent
said there was no difference between the two parties. ... By late 1964, however,
the public saw clear differences between the two parties. When asked which
party was more likely to support fair treatment in jobs for blacks, 60 percent
of the respondents said the Democratic party, 33 percent said there was no
difference between the parties, and only 7 percent said the Republican party.
(Edsall & Edsall 1991, 35-36)
One reason for the dramatic change in public opinion was the tenor of the 1964
presidential election. Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater firmly opposed
the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and made it a focal point of his campaign. In contrast, his
practical liberal Democratic opponent, President Johnson, was a leading advocate of the
landmark legislation. Polling data indicated that by the conclusion of the 1964 campaign
75% of the surveyed respondents were aware that Congress had passed the Civil Rights
Act; and of those aware of the congressional action 96% knew that Johnson had

41
supported the civil rights bill while 84% knew Goldwater had opposed it (Edsall & Edsall
1991, 35).
Following the 1964 presidential campaign public perceptions of differences
between the parties on the issues of taxes, race, and rights became more firmly established
by the priming and framing of the term "liberal" by Republicans, particularly Richard M.
Nixon and Ronald Reagan, and George Wallace, the Democratic governor of Alabama.
In his 1968 comeback presidential campaign and his 1972 reelection bid Richard
Nixon strategically courted disgruntled working and middle class voters, particularly
working and middle class white Democrats, by capitalizing on their grievances toward the
domestic policies of the Great Society and the social and political unrest associated with
the civil rights and anti-war movements. Referring to the forgotten working and middle
class as the "silent majority," Nixon attempted to polarize the electorate by framing the
problems of the working and middle classes as directly linked to the injustices of the
"liberal" policies espoused by the Democratic administrations of the 1960s. Nixon's first
vice president, Spiro Agnew, actively assumed the role of presidential "pit-bull" frequently
attacking the public policies of what he called the "radical liberals."
Nixon and his Republican allies were not alone in their "mugging" of liberalism.
The segregationist governor of Alabama, George Wallace, helped to galvanize the anger
and resentment of working and middle class whites, particularly Democrats, into a
formidable electoral coalition by his insurgent 1968 presidential campaign. Wallace's anti¬
liberal rhetoric, especially in regard to civil rights issues, helped to justify the feelings of
many working and middle class white Democrats toward the Great Society and the civil
and minority rights movements precisely because Wallace himself was a member of their
party. According to Thomas and Mary Edsall:
Wallace provided a desperately sought-after moral justification to those
whites who saw themselves as most victimized and most displaced by the
black struggle for civil rights . . . Wallace portrayed the civil rights issue not
as the struggle of blacks to achieve equality~a goal increasingly difficult

42
to challenge on a moral basis-but as the imposition on workmg men and
women of intrusive "social" policies by an insulated, liberal, elitist cabal of
lawyers, judges, editorial writers, academics, government bureaucrats,
and planners. (Edsall & Edsall 1991, 77)
The recent string of Republican successes at the presidential level was possible
because George Wallace laid the foundation for what ultimately became the GOP's alliance
with working and middle class white Democrats. As Nixon strategist Kevin Phillips noted,
"Wallace served as a way station for Democratic traditionalists following realignment
into the Republican party" (Phillips 1970, 287). By attacking what he called the extremes
of the "liberal social experiments," Democrat Wallace was able to establish common
ground between working and middle class white Democrats and "their traditional
Republican adversaries—corporate America, the well-to-do, and the very rich—a common
bond in opposition to federal regulation and to high taxes" (Edsall & Edsall 1991, 79).
Republicans were able to keep the coalition alive by cultivating the perception that the
GOP was the institutional mechanism to stem and reverse the perceived economic, social,
and political injustices of the Great Society and the civil and minority rights movements.
Ronald Reagan, more than any other recent political leader, solidified working and
middle class whites into a winning Republican electoral coalition through the deliberate
and calculated transformation of the meaning of liberalism into a pejorative metaphor. A
formidable force in Republican politics during the late seventies and the dominant force
during the eighties, Ronald Reagan and his Republican foot soldiers continued the Nixon
and Wallace strategy of denigrating liberalism. Reagan unabashedly blamed the Great
Society and the civil and minority rights policies enacted by practical liberals as
responsible for the decay of the nation's moral fabric and the root cause for the vast
majority of problems that beset working and middle class whites. To crack the New Deal
electoral coalition and dislodge working and middle class white voters from their
traditional allegiance to the Democratic party, Reagan and other Republican conservatives
openly appealed to the resentment and anger among white voters by constantly linking

43
policies unpopular with many working and middle class whites, such as welfare,
affirmative action, quotas, and homosexual rights, to "liberalism" as it was embodied in the
programs of the Great Society and the civil and minority rights movements. As Jesse
Jackson observed, "Reagan convinced whites the civil rights movement had taken
advantage of them" (Brown 1991, 84).
Richard Nixon, George Wallace, and Ronald Reagan helped to transform the
meaning of liberalism from a positive to a pejorative connotation by capitalizing on the
growing resentment among working and middle class white Americans toward programs
that they came to believe unfairly disadvantaged them Remarks by Reagan, like his 1987
statement, "we waged war on poverty, and poverty won," captured the essence of white
resentment and resonated throughout working and middle class America (Brown 1991,
84). Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and Republicans competing on all
electoral levels during the late 1960s, 1970s and 1980s benefited from the votes of
working and middle class whites, many being registered Democrats, who ultimately
accepted the argument that the liberal policies of the Great Society and the civil and
minority rights movements were the causes of the economic, social, and political injustices
that they had suffered. Nationally, the Democratic party validated Republican claims that
their party was controlled by "liberals" by nominating candidates for president, like George
McGovern, Walter Mondale, and Michael Dukakis, who either publicly supported or were
perceived to support racial, rights, and tax policies that were counter to the interests of
working and middle class whites. Presidential candidates like McGovern, Mondale, and
Dukakis, who were perceived to be "liberal" in the pejorative sense of the term, only
accelerated the exodus of working and middle class w'hite Americans from the Democratic
party.

American Political Culture Values and Modern Liberalism:
A Fundamental Problem for the Democratic Party
44
The social and domestic policies of practical liberal Democrats, such as Truman,
Kennedy, and Johnson, have inexorably linked the Democratic party with the advancement
of civil and minority rights and a host of taxpayer-paid social welfare programs. Some
scholars have argued that once the focus of civil and minority rights and social welfare
issues shifted from one emphasizing equality of opportunity to the advancement of goals
emphasizing economic equality and equal outcomes the Democrats' connection with these
issues as they relate to rights, race, and taxes evolved into a fundamental dispute
concerning values. According to Thomas and Mary Edsall, it is the "values barrier" that
has proven the most problematic for national Democrats and is at the core of the party's
negative image with its former core constituencies of working and middle class white
Americans:
This barrier evolved, in complex and ironic ways, from one of the grand
struggles of the twentieth century; a struggle between so-called traditional
values and a competing set of insurgent values. "Traditional" values have
generally been seen as revolving around commitments to a larger (if
exclusive) commumty-to the family, to parental responsibility, to
country, to the work ethic, to sexual restraint, to self-control, to mies,
duty, authority, and to a stable social order A competing or msurgent
set of values—values that have been the focus of the rights revolution
and of the civil rights movement—has been largely concerned with
freedom from confinement, from hierarchy, from authority, from
stricture, from repression, from rigid rulemaking, and from the status
quo. Insofar as the post-war Democratic party has been geared toward
the liberation of disenfranchised minorities, and towards an assault on
hierarchy, on embedded privilege, and on the power of the strong over
the weak—the party has allied itself with msurgent rather than traditional
values. (Edsall & Edsall 1991, 262-263)
Other scholars join the Edsalls in arguing that the modern electoral misfortunes of
the national Democratic party are linked to values, specifically symbolic values (Bell 1992;
Brown 1991, Kusnet 1992; Kuttner 1987). These authors center their discussions on the
Democratic party because each sees the recent decline in the presidential fortunes of the

45
nation's oldest political party as a direct result of symbolic politics based on values
appeals Written from an historical perspective, Jeffrey Bell, Peter Brown, David Kusnet,
and Robert Kuttner trace the Democrats' long national level political exile, arguing that the
party has been largely unsuccessful at winning the White House because they have allowed
Republicans to make symbolic value issues the focal point of political debate thus turning
elections into ideological referendums. What their arguments reflect is the contention that
values matter-specifically, that the Democratic party no longer shares the values of
working and middle class white voters. What Democrats have ignored, according to then
Governor Bill Clinton, is that "values [and] symbolism matter" in the decision-making
calculus of many voters (Brown 1991, 124). These authors place the blame for the party’s
lack of national level success upon the Democrats' perceptual association, among other
things, with policies that promote wealth redistribution, criminal rights above victims'
rights, minority rights at the expense of equal treatment, and weakness on matters of
national defense.
These policies, the authors argue, are highly unpopular because they run counter to
widely shared individual and community values of hard work, economic individualism,
security, and egalitarianism, concepts which are the bulwark of "classical liberalism" and
the foundation of the American political culture. The values-based priming and framing of
civil and minority rights, taxes, and racial issues by conservative Republicans, such as
Goldwater and Reagan, has transformed the meaning of the term liberal from its positive
"classical" and "practical" interpretations to a radical pejorative connotation associated in
the minds of many voters, particularly working and middle class whites, with a host of
insurgent values and a fundamental departure from the principles of traditional American
political culture. Today, "liberal" has become a codeword representing a set of values
contrary to the principles of traditional American social, moral, and political culture. Bell,
Brown, Kusnet, and Kuttner conclude that the Democrats' perpetual association with
policies that promote wealth redistribution, criminal rights above victims' rights, racial and

46
minority rights at the expense of equal treatment, and weakness on matters of national
defense is neatly summed-up in value-laden symbols which, today, elicit negative
predispositions associated with the label "liberal" among many working and middle class
whites.
Peter Brown argues in his book, Minority Party, that the unpopularity of policies
that promote wealth redistribution, criminal rights above victims' rights, minority rights at
the expense of equal treatment, and w eakness on matters of national defense ultimately
devolves into tensions between those whose constellation of values reflect faith in
collective solutions to society's problems and those who see merit in the ethos of
individual initiative. To the majority of working and middle class Americans modern
liberals have abandoned them and their quest to realize the American Dream of a better
standard of living, a good job at a fair wage, and advancement based on hard work and
education. In the name of civil liberties and social justice, modem liberals are seen to be
only interested in promoting aid to minorities, criminals, and other special interests even at
the expense of others' rights or interests (Brown 1991, 28).
Brown further contends that part of the modern liberal social justice policy
requires society to redistribute its wealth, reform criminals, and compensate aggrieved
minorities for past injustices. While not disputing that government should help the
underprivileged, many in the United States feel that the programs and policies associated
with modern liberalism have gone too far. At issue for many working and middle class
white citizens is the concept of fairness. Many working and middle class white Americans
reject the liberal's faith in wealth redistribution and civil and minority rights because they
see them as unfairly benefiting others at their expense. Economically, many among the
working and middle classes believe that the current welfare system promotes "welfare
queens" who freeload-off society while the working and middle class taxpayers foot-the-
bill.

47
In addition, many working and middle class white Americans see civil and minority
rights laws as unfairly jeopardizing their personal security and ability to advance in their
chosen professions In terms of criminal justice issues many working and middle class
citizens believe that the rights movement has resulted in laws which have unjustifiably
reduced the severity of criminal punishment and, in some instances, resulted in prison
environments where criminals enjoy better living standards than many law-abiding citizens.
Furthermore, many working and middle class white Americans believe affirmative action
and employment quotas, which masquerading under the guise of equality of opportunity,
provide minorities with a mechanism to bypass traditional methods of advancement based
on experience and qualification
In the eyes of many working and middle class whites, contemporary liberalism
advances public policies that dispense with individual initiative as the means for providing
personal well being A large proportion of the population believes that the policy agenda
embraced by modern liberalism runs counter to the shared American political and cultural
values that dignify hard work and honest living (Brown 1991, Edsall & Edsall 1991).
Because of the Democrats' historical association with the liberal label, perceptions of the
party among working and middle class white Americans have been adversely affected
because this former core constituency of FDR's New Deal coalition no longer sees
liberalism in a positive, "practical" sense. Louise Renaud's observation concerning race
and welfare issues best summarizes the sentiments many working and middle class white
voters have toward the Democratic party: "If they [black welfare recipients] can wear
Calvin Klein jeans and have babies by not working, then they say, 'Why should I go and
flip hamburgers for $4 an hour9' . . . They think someone, the government, will take care
of them. The more babies, the more AFDC. And the Democrats have perpetuated that
system. They [the Democrats] are going in a whole different direction than I am" (Brown
1991, 19). The problem for the Democratic party as it relates to working and middle class

48
white voters' perceptions of liberalism is neatly contained in the words of a contemporary
bumper sticker "Vote Democrat, It Beats Working!"
Values and Ideology: Is There a Connection?
The focus of recent values related literature clearly suggests that there is a
connection between values and ideology, particularly in regard to interpretations of certain
shared American values like freedom, liberty, individualism, patriotism, and equality of
opportunity If this is true then it is logical to conclude that there is a relationship between
values and ideology. However, as John Zaller points out, the failure to specify the nature
of the theoretical relationship of different value continua to one another and to political
ideology is a major shortcoming inherent in the values literature (Zaller 1992, 26).
Zaller attempts to remedy this shortcoming by arguing that values are linked
together to form ideologies and that ideologies are composed of various values
dimensions:
First, the various value dimensions are no longer conceptually independent;
rather, each is one among several correlated dimensions of a master concept,
ideology. Second, ideology is no longer the strictly unidimensional concept
that many discussions have considered it to be, but a constellation of related
value dimensions. (Zaller 1992, 26)
To support his contention Zaller cites the ability of people to exhibit fairly
consistent "left" or "right" or "centrist" tendencies on such disparate value issues as
economic individualism, opinions toward communists, tolerance of nonconformists, racial
issues, sexual freedom, and religious authority.5 Zaller explains the consistent
dimensionality of ideology by analogy to human intelligence. Zaller contends that it is rare
5 Zaller operationalizes "liberal" and "conservative" as labels describing people that tend to be closer to
the left or right pole of some particular value dimension, or closer to one or the other pole of the
constellation of associated liberal-conservative values. In his research, v alues and ideology have exactly
the same theoretical status: they are indicators of predispositions to accept or reject particular political
communications (Zaller 1992. 27-28).

49
to find someone who is a brilliant mathematician yet a verbal illiterate. Conversely, it is
rare to find someone who is simultaneously a gifted writer yet cannot perform simple
mathematical functions. Similarly, Zaller contends, it is rare to find someone who is very
conservative on one dimension and very liberal on the other.6 "There is a tendency, which
is clear but not overpowering, for people to stake out roughly comparable positions on a
series of seemingly unrelated left-right value dimensions" (Zaller 1992, 27).
Zaller's observation on the consistent dimensionality of ideology is central to the
discussion of the 1988 election. The Bush campaign organized a group of seemingly
unrelated issues that represented a host of disparate value dimensions. Yet, embedded in
each value dimension was a dominant frame or viewpoint which acted as a central
organizing concept implying a particular ideological alternative. When understood in their
totality the value dimensions symbolized by the issues were consistently linked with the
ideological dimensionality associated with contemporary liberalism.
Value Issues in Other Political Contexts: The 1992 Presidential Campaign
Political appeals using value issues that run counter to universally shared political
culture orientations can often be unsuccessful Recently, another values term, "traditional
family values," has received extensive attention within the .American political dialogue.
The issue of family values achieved prominence as a theme in the 1992 Republican
presidential campaign in response to perceived weaknesses in the personal and family life
of Democratic presidential nominee Bill Clinton. Rumors of Clinton's marital infidelity
symbolized by the Gennifer Flowers controversy allowed Republicans to raise personal
character as an issue. Furthermore, Republicans made an issue of the role of women in
society using Hillary Rodham Clinton as the focus of the debate. However, unlike most
6 Zaller notes the possible exception of libertarians who tend to be conservative on economic issues and
liberal on social, life-style issues. However, he argues that they are sufficiently uncommon in the United
States so ideological studies can safely ignore them.

50
shared values, family values have distinct personal and moral overtones which suggest
how individuals should conduct their lives. Within the context of American political
culture such an approach is incompatible with the cherished tenet of separation of church
and state. In a 1981 Decision/Making/Information study 66% of those surveyed, despite
concerns about pornography and lack of moral standards, believed that consenting adults
ought to be able to do whatever they want in private (White 1989, 27). Political efforts
perceived as imposing universal moral codes are as unappealing as those that emphasize
consensual values are appealing because each sensitizes Americans to the tenets which
underlie our political culture
Furthermore, the extent that certain value issues can successfully impact political
behavior depends on their degree of consensus among the American electorate
(Rosenbaum 1975). For a value issue to significantly influence political behavior it must
be an issue that achieves general public agreement as to its importance and/or harm to the
society as a whole. In addition, the public must perceive that a clear distinction exists with
one political candidate embracing the wrong or nonconsensual side of the value issue. The
greatest potential for dramatic changes in political behavior exists when, in the context of
political debate, a salient value issue is raised in which the public expresses a clear
consensus and one candidate is perceived to embrace the minority position on the issue.
Ben Wattenberg argues that one reason the Republicans did not win in 1992 was because
the party, specifically Bush, did not focus debate on consensual symbolic value-based
issues during the campaign:
Here are some items that were not presented forcefully in prime time in Houston
[site of the Republican National Convention]: quotas, welfare, crime, educational
discipline. These are all legitimate grist for political discourse, all harming America,
all can be. arguably, laid at the feet of the recent liberal impulse in America, and all
of w hich Bush had addressed at one time or another. (B. Wattenberg 1995. 64)
Wattenberg would categorize family value issues as cultural in nature because of
the lack of consensus concerning what they represent. "Liberals often see the cultural

51
issues as related to liberty and leeway. Conservatives often see them as related to license
and libertinism" (B Wattenberg 1995, 98). Issues that can potentially impact traditional
family life such as pornography, abortion, sex education, and promiscuity are often issues
which lack a high degree of consensus. The lack of consensus concerning the impact on
society of family value issues limits the extent that these issues can potentially influence
political behavior
If the goal of Republican operatives in 1992 was to attract the more socially
conservative working class Democrats based on a campaign emphasizing traditional family
values, for the most part, their efforts failed. They failed not only because family value
issues lack a high degree of consensus, but because the Democrats had successfully
focused debate on the economy. Economic issues have always been the glue holding
together the diverse Democratic "New Deal" coalition. The recession of the early 1990s
overshadowed all other issues in importance. Despite value-laden appeals, economic
issues, more than any other single factor, were responsible for bringing many conservative
Democrats, who had previously strayed from the fold, back under the party banner. The
saliency among the electorate of economic and value issues raised together within the
context of the same political environment is another avenue of inquiry which deserves
appropriate attention. However, such an inquiry is beyond the scope of this research.
Value Issues and the 1988 Presidential General Election Campaign
Unlike the symbolic value issues used by Republicans in 1992, the symbolic value
issues raised by Bush in 1988 and addressed in this research reflect the widely shared
political culture orientations held by most Americans. In the context of the 1988 election
the Pledge of Allegiance issue is symbolic of patriotism, national defense issues are
symbolic of American prestige and the nation's readiness, willingness, and commitment to
protect freedom and liberty; the prison furlough and the death penalty issues are symbolic

52
of the concern for personal security; and the tax issue is symbolic of individual merit and
initiative to create wealth and ascend the economic ladder of success.7 Even though the
meanings of each are subject to idiosyncratic interpretations, respect for and love of
country, a willingness to defend our nation to protect liberty, concern for personal safety
and freedom from fear, and a universal commitment to equal opportunity and individual
initiative to get ahead are values rooted in classical liberalism and shared by most
Americans.
While the Pledge issue, prison furloughs, the death penalty, and taxes symbolize a
set of values shared by a majority of Americans, they also symbolize the differences the
majority perceives to exist between their values and the values embraced by those they
consider to be outside the mainstream: the liberal elite. "If Reagan's values strategy
represented a photograph, then Bush's was a photographic negative" (White 1989, 157).
In the political arena Reagan and his strategists chose to frame issues which symbolized
widely shared values to elicit positive predispositions from the electorate. Bush and his
strategists chose to frame issues which symbolized similar widely shared values, but to
have the opposite effect; elicit negative predispositions based on the electorates’
understanding of the term "liberal."
The Bush campaign's use of issues which symbolized widely shared values to elicit
negative predispositions from segments of the electorate based on their understanding of
the term liberal is succinctly summarized by Thomas and Mary Edsall:
In 1988, the Bush campaign assembled and deployed a range of symbols
and images designed to tap into . submerged concerns [cnme, welfare,
family dissolution, an erodmg work ethic, and global retreat] . . . often
clustering around the nexus of racial, ethnic, cultural, and "values"
7 Some have argued that the decision by an independent political committee, Americans for Bush, to
produce and air television commercials during the 1988 general election campaign highlighting William
J. (Willie) Horton. Jr., a black man who committed murder and rape while on furlough from a
Massachusetts prison, transformed the prison furlough issue from a social value issue sy mbolizing crime
and contemporary liberalism to one sy mbolizing race. The Republican campaign has consistently denied
that it intended to link the furlough issue to race citing that Horton, in either name or photograph, did not
appear in any Bush campaign sanctioned media advertising.

53
anxieties that had helped to fuel the conservative policies of the post-civil
rights era. The symbols of the Bush campaign—Willie Horton, the ACLU,
the death penalty, the Pledge of Allegiance, the American flag, "no new
taxes," the "L-word," and "Harvard boutique liberal"—conjured up the
criminal defendants' and prisoners' rights movements, black crime, permissive
liberal elites, a revenue-hungry state, eroding traditional values, tattered
patriotism, and declining American prestige. Themes and symbols tapping
these issues became for the Republican party the means of restoring the
salience of associations damaging to Democrats, and the means of
maintaining the vitality of the majority conservative coalition [The]
Bush campaign strategy essentially looked backwards, organized around the
conflicts and schisms of the previous twenty-five years. The campaign was
fought on the battleground of civil rights and the broader rights movements,
focusing on the liabilities that had accumulated around the liberal wing of the
national Democratic party. (Edsall & Edsall 1991, 215-216)

RESEARCH ON THE 1988 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
Much of the contemporary research conducted on the 1988 presidential election is
of a distinctly qualitative nature. Symbolic value issues are central to the qualitative
literature discussing the 1988 presidential campaign (Abramson et al. 1990; Black &
Oliphant 1989; Blumenthal 1990; Cramer 1992; Drew 1989; Germond & Witcover 1989;
Goldman & Mathews 1989, Moreland, Steed, & Baker 1991, Morrison 1988, Nelson
1989; Pomper 1989; Runkel 1989; Taylor 1990) These analyses treat symbolic values in
an historical context, merely referring to the Pledge issue, prison furloughs, national
defense, and the death penalty as pieces in the electoral puzzle which, in their totality,
worked against Dukakis. With the exception of Pomper, who does provide some
longitudinal polling data to demonstrate the saliency of the values message with the
national electorate, the other authors do not provide any substantive quantitative data to
support their conclusions that the Pledge of Allegiance, prison furloughs, national defense,
the death penalty and other value-based issues were important factors that had a
significant impact on voting behavior. Their only contribution to the present discussion is
an acknowledgment that Bush's value-based strategy was effective in driving a wedge in
the Democratic coalition
Despite their predilection to present their research in qualitative form, these
analyses of the 1988 campaign set the stage for the current research Each author clearly
acknowledges the significance of the Republican's value-based strategy in determining the
ultimate electoral outcome and discusses the critical importance of the focus group
research conducted by the Bush campaign in determining the saliency level of the Pledge
of Allegiance, prison furlough, death penalty, and tax issues among certain segments of
54

the Democratic coalition, notably working and middle class Democrats who had
previously supported Ronald Reagan.
55
The pool of quantitative research discussing the impact symbolic value issues had
on the 1988 electorate is not as broad as that of qualitative research. However, some of
the research that is available suggests that issues with distinct shared-values appeals were
successful in achieving electoral movement with some segments of the 1988 electorate.
A recent study of the Pledge of Allegiance issue demonstrated that Bush's strategy
affected the voting behavior of those w ithin the electorate who viewed the issue of
patriotism in strictly symbolic and emotional terms (Sullivan, Fried, & Dietz 1992).
To arrive at their conclusion Sullivan and his associates used 0 methodology to
identify five categories of patriotism: (1) iconoclastic patriots—those who reject purely
symbolic and emotional appeals and instead express their love of country through working
towards economic and political change and engaging in civic and community activities; (2)
symbolic patriots—those w ho distinguish their love of country by strong emotional
reverence to traditional patriotic symbols, rituals, and slogans, (3) instinctive
environmental patriots—those who distinguish their love of country through deep respect
for the preservation of the nation's natural resources for the enjoyment of future
generations; (4) capitalistic patriots—those, who blend love of country with economic
growth so that future generations may enjoy a more productive nation; and (5) symbolic
national patriotism—those who view America as infallible, first among nations, and God's
chosen country.
Using panel studies conducted in May/June 1988 and November 1988, Sullivan
and company employed R methodology to analyze the effects the Pledge issue had on

56
candidate choice in a subnational universe of Minnesota voters.1 The evidence suggests
that symbolic and instinctive environmental patriots were the categories most positively
influenced by Bush's campaign strategy. Bush experienced a 15% gain among symbolic
patriots and a 17% gain among instinctive environmentalists. Sullivan admits that Bush's
emphasis during the campaign on Governor Dukakis' lack of attention toward the
environmental problems that beset Boston harbor, rather than the Pledge issue itself, may
have enhanced the vice president's appeal among the latter group
Other quantitative research concludes that issues, rather than image considerations,
propelled Bush to victory (Gopoian 1993). Using ANES 1988 election data and a logistic
regression model J David Gopoian argues that redistributive issues, not Dukakis' image,
played a critical role in Bush's success.
What Gopoian's analysis fails to address is Zaller's contention that various values
dimensions, when linked together, form ideologies. Many voters perceive an inherent
relationship between redistributive value-based issues and the popular image of liberalism
For many voters candidates who support wealth redistribution policies are liberals. This
relationship is conversely true. If a candidate is perceived as a liberal then it is easy for
voters to identify that candidate with redistributive policies.
Voters who said they supported Bush on the basis of redistributive policy
considerations (according to Gopoian, 65.2% of the 27.5% of the electorate that based
their decisions on redistributive issues) may have done so because they cognitively
1 At first the analysts used O methodology to identify alternative understandings of patriotism. This
methodology is used to maximize diversity , however at the expense of randomness and sample size.
In this study n=43. To solve this problem so generalizations could be made regarding individuals' sub¬
jective conceptualizations and their other political attitudes and behaviors, Sullivan and associates used
an R methodology survey (n=400) of the broader community. A questionnaire was designed which asked
people to respond to the statements that best distinguished the respective patriotism perspectives elicited
from the 0 analysis. They assigned survey respondents to a particular patriotism perspective based on the
match betw een their response profile and each of the five perspectives. The survey also included items
designed to validate the strategy for assigning respondents to patriotism perspectives, compared results
obtained using R methodology with those obtained by a more traditional patriotism scale, explored the
extent to which varying reactions to current political issues had their roots in differing views about
patriotism, and assessed the political consequences, particularly in the 1988 election, of the diversity of
patriotism perspectives (Sullivan. Fried & Dietz 1992. pp. 217-219).

57
perceived an image of Dukakis as a liberal. How could these voters have arrived at the
conclusion that Dukakis was a liberal? Because of the Bush campaign's efforts at using
the Pledge issue, prison furloughs, the death penalty, national defense, and taxes in
defining Dukakis as a dangerous "radical" liberal who did not share the mainstream
values of a majority of Americans. The following model explains the logic:
Further analysis needs to be conducted to clarify whether voters citing
redistributive issues considerations in making their electoral choice supported Bush
because of his position on these issues or because of their perceptions of Dukakis as a
liberal If evidence shows voters who chose Bush on the basis of redistributive issues did
so because of possessing a liberal image of Dukakis then Gopoian needs to reassess his
model allowing for the possibility that additional intervening variables may have influenced
the electorate's ideological image of the Democratic candidate which in turn may have
affected voting behavior.

THE 1988 PRESIDENTIAL GENERAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN:
THE GENESIS OF THE REPUBLICAN STRATEGY
The 1988 presidential election was Michael Dukakis' to lose. Following a
universally acclaimed convention performance, the Democratic nominee surged to a 17
point lead in national polls. Dukakis' only obstacle on the road to the White House was
his Republican opponent, George Bush. Bush, a two term incumbent vice president,
entered the general election campaign with major handicaps. Even as Bush reached the
pinnacle of .American political power, there remained much public and private skepticism
about him. A 1987 poll completed by Reagan pollster Richard Wirthlin confirmed this
feeling. More than a third of Republicans said, "there is just something about Bush that
bothers me (Goldman & Mathews 1989, 26). To further complicate matters for the vice
president, the media had successfully characterized him as a "wimp." The result, after
eight faithful years of service to Ronald Reagan, George Bush was perceived to be a
weak, indecisive leader without an agenda or an ideology. On the road to the Oval Office,
George Bush's major liability was himself. Even history seemed to be against him. No
incumbent vice president since Martin Van Burén in 1836 had succeeded in winning the
White House.
Unlike Bush, Dukakis was generally unknown to much of the electorate.
However, detailed polling had shown that despite the public's lack of familiarity with the
Democratic nominee they preferred Dukakis over Bush precisely because of what they did
not like about the vice president. An ABC News Washington Post poll found that 57% of
Dukakis supporters said that they planned to vote for him mainly because they were
against Bush (Germond & Witcover 1989, 156). Furthermore, a CBS News New York
Times poll found that two-thirds of the conservatives surveyed did not perceive the
58

59
Massachusetts Democrat as a liberal and among this electoral subgroup Dukakis was
running even with Bush (Germond & Witcover 1989, 157) And polls showed that
conservative Democrats, the electoral group that formed an integral part of Ronald
Reagan's coalition and was vital to Bush's success, were returning home and supporting
Dukakis (White 1989, 152). In essence, the Massachusetts governor enjoyed the electoral
benefit of doubt associated with anonymity.
At the outset of the general election campaign Bush's negative ratings hovered
near 40% (Goldman & Mathews 1989, 299). Roger Ailes, Bush's media consultant,
believed that they could lower the vice president's negatives, however, in order to win, the
campaign would have to raise public doubts about Dukakis. Realizing that many voters
perceived Dukakis as a "tabula rasa" or blank slate. Bush strategists theorized that they
could persuade specific segments of voters to choose Bush if they could define Dukakis to
the electorate in such a way as to give them a reason to dislike the Democratic nominee
even more. With this in mind Bush campaign manager Lee Atwater enlisted the help of
Jim Pinkerton, the campaign’s director of research, to uncover issues which would
mortally wound the Massachusetts governor. In a testament to the era of "sound-bite"
politics Atwater's only instructions to Pinkerton were that his findings and their
explanations had to fit in a space no larger than a 3 x 5 index card!
A 26 year political veteran, Dukakis' record naturally became the focal point of
Pinkerton and his staffs efforts to find and identify issues that could be used against the
Massachusetts governor Dukakis began his political career in 1962 when he was elected
to the state legislature. During his subsequent years in the political arena Dukakis had
only lost a contest for elective office once; his bid for renomination in the 1978
Democratic gubernatorial primary .1 It was through careful analysis of Dukakis' 1978
1 As a single candidate or the head of a team ticket Dukakis was defeated only once (the 1978 Democratic
gubernatorial primary ) prior to his 1988 loss to George Bush (losses during the 1988 presidential primary
season excluded) The only exception was in 1970 when Michael S. Dukakis was the Democratic
nominee for lieutenant governor on a tandem ticket headed by then Boston Mayor Kevin H. White. The

60
defeat and the reasons for his loss that would provide the Bush team with the framework
and direction to formulate their strategy against the Democratic nominee
The 1978 Massachusetts Democratic Gubernatorial Primary:
A King Dethrones the Duke
As the 1978 election year dawned, Governor Dukakis appeared to be well-
positioned for reelection Nature even cooperated with the governor. An unusually
potent February ice storm paralyzed a large portion of Massachusetts. Schools, mass
transportation, and other vital public and municipal services, were shut-down. A massive
power failure left many Bostonians without heat. In response to the crisis Dukakis
summoned the National Guard. While citizens were buried under 27 inches of snow with
nothing to do but watch television they witnessed a governor in control. Dukakis,
casually dressed in slacks and a sweater, calmed and reassured the public, explained
developments, and informed people of what was being done to bring relief to those in
need. A more effective kickoff" for the reelection campaign could hardly have been
imagined. Estimates of the amount of free television media accorded Dukakis during the
natural disaster were placed at $2 million (Buchanan 1978). In a post-blizzard poll
conducted in March 56% of the surveyed voters rated Dukakis' performance as governor
as "good" or "excellent."2
The results of the post-blizzard poll were encouraging to the Dukakis reelection
effort. Equally encouraging was that Dukakis had not drawn any primary opposition that
was perceived to be serious. In his bid for renomination, Dukakis had two seemingly
innocuous challengers. The more notable threat to the incumbent came from the right in
the person of Edward J. King. King, a conservative, Irish Catholic Democrat, was the
White/Dukakis ticket was defeated in the November general election by incumbent Republican Governor
Francis W. Sargent and Lieutenant Governor Donald R. Dwight.
2 Clark University, Public Affairs Research Center, press release, 9 March 1978.

61
former Director of the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) and President of the New
England Council, a public relations firm designed to promote business interests in the
region. A six foot, 225 pound ex-professional football player, King was a political
newcomer who had never before sought public office. King's reasons for seeking the
Democratic gubernatorial nomination were more personal than political. A pro-business
advocate, King's tenure at Massport was notable for his aggressive development program
and expansion of Boston's Logan International Airport When Dukakis was elected
governor in November of 1974, environmental activists in the governor-elect's inner circle,
appalled by King's policies and tactics at Massport, successfully ousted him as the Port
Authority Director Motivating himself for the coming campaign, King reportedly said,
"Can you imagine that little Greek firing me, Ed King'7" (Gaines & Segal 1987, 158) In
October of 1977 King announced his candidacy for the Democratic gubernatorial
nomination during a press conference staged on the steps of the State House on Beacon
Hill
Dukakis' second primary challenger, former Cambridge mayor Barbara
Ackermann, attacked Dukakis from the left. An ideological, progressive liberal,
Ackermann was running to protest what she perceived was Dukakis' sell-out of the liberal
agenda that he was supposed to represent. Liberal dissatisfaction with Dukakis stemmed
from events early in his administration. Upon entering office in January of 1975 Dukakis
was unexpectedly faced with a severe state financial crisis which threatened to bankrupt
the Commonwealth. Attempting to avoid fiscal insolvency Dukakis authorized deep cuts
in social services, particularly welfare. Incensed by his "meat cleaver" approach to
balancing the state budget the estrangement between liberals and Dukakis was further
exacerbated by the governor's advocacy of workfare and his signing of a 1977 redistricting
bill which eroded the support base of many of the legislative members of a liberal policy
organization known as the Democrat Study Group (Gaines & Segal 1987, 158).

62
At the outset of the campaign the political community regarded neither of Dukakis'
two primary opponents as much of a threat. Both lacked significant statewide recognition.
In a poll conducted for the Boston Globe in May, four months before the primary, 44%
and 48% of the respondents had not heard of either King or Ackermann respectively.3
Initially Edward J. King campaigned as a pro-business Democrat concentrating on
promoting economic issues and themes. However, after several months of campaigning
King's position relative to Dukakis had not significantly changed in the polls. A survey
conducted for the King campaign in February of 1978 projected Dukakis winning 64% of
the vote to King's 11% and Ackermann's 3%, the remaining 22% being undecided.4 It was
in the late winter that the King campaign attempted to redefine their primary election
strategy. In March the King campaign sponsored a survey exclusively targeted at those
Democrats favoring Dukakis' reelection. The purpose of the survey was to attempt to
isolate specific issues which could be used to break Democratic voters' allegiance to
Dukakis. The results of the survey proved conclusive (table 1). Forty-two percent of
those surveyed said that under no circumstances could they support a candidate for
governor who opposed minimum mandatory jail sentences for persons guilty of
committing violent crimes, 36% said that they could not support a candidate who opposed
the death penalty; and an amazing 60% said they could not support a candidate who
favored abortion.
During his term as governor, Michael Dukakis was on record opposing minimum
mandatory sentences and capital punishment and in support of tax funded abortions. The
survey also showed that voters were seeking tax relief and supported an increase in the
drinking age. According to King's campaign manager, George Fratlaroli, "That's when we
discovered we could get significant defections from Dukakis if we could let people know
3 Survey taken for the Boston Globe, 9 May through 15 May 1978.
4 Survey taken for Edward J. King by Baraff. Morris, and Mercurio Associates, March 1978.

63
TABLE 1
Pre-Primary Survey of Self-Described Supporters of Governor Michael S. Dukakis
SURVEY QUESTION
PERCENTAGE ANSWERING "NO"
Are there any circumstances under which you would
vote for a candidate for governor who opposed
minimum jail sentences for violent crimes?
42% (N - 155)
Are there any circumstances under w hich you would
vote for a candidate for governor w ho opposed the
death penalty?
36% (N - 136)
Are there any circumstances under which you would
vote for a candidate for governor who favored
abortion'1
60% (N = 62)
SOURCE. Baraff. Morris, and Mercurio, survey conducted for Edward J. King. March 1978.
where he stood and where we stood on the issues" (Woodlief 1978). As a result of the
survey, the King campaign adopted a strategy designed to define Dukakis as a radical
liberal by focusing attention on Dukakis' positions on specific social and cultural value
issues such as capital punishment, taxes, and abortion. The principle goal of the strategy
was to prime Dukakis-leaning voters who did not share the governor's positions on certain
social and cultural issues to conclude that the incumbent did not share their values and
thus reject his candidacy. King would become the direct beneficiary as these voters would
find him to be more closely aligned with their values therefore more acceptable. The
slogan adopted by the King campaign succinctly defined their strategy, "You have a clear
choice!"5
During the remainder of the summer and early fall King concentrated on defining
Dukakis as a radical liberal through consistent and constant attempts at increasing public
awareness of his and Dukakis' positions with respect to the issues of capital punishment,
mandatory sentences, abortion, taxes, and the drinking age. Unlike Barbara Ackermann,
Edward J. King had the means to deliver his message to the voters. Of the three
5 King campaign advertisement. Boston Globe, 18 September 1978.

M
gubernatorial contestants in the Democratic field King was clearly the most successful
fund-raiser Relying on his broad support from the business and labor communities King
was able to effectively compete with Dukakis. In a statewide campaign, television and
other forms of mass communication are essential to effectively convey a candidate's
message. In this respect Dukakis all but surrendered. In media advertising King spent
$280,000 compared to $75,000 by the Dukakis campaign (Kenney & Turner 1988, 132).
On August 31st, four weeks before the primary, the three contestants, Dukakis,
King, and Ackermann, competed in the only pre-primary televised debate. From the
outset King was clearly on the offensive. Regardless of the question asked by the
moderators, King reiterated his positions with respect to his five hand picked issues.
During his closing remarks, with Dukakis conveniently at his side, a defiant Edward J
King summarized his positions:
Clearly I stand for a Proposition 13 for Massachusetts. I'm for capital
punishment for premeditated felony murders, which are on the rise in
this state. I'm for mandatory jail sentences for those who break and
enter into our homes in the nighttime. Clearly jail is the place for them.
I'm unalterably opposed to taxpayer funds being used for abortion.
I think the practice is abhorrent. And I'm for raising the drinking age
to age twenty-one. Those are my positions. Ask Dukakis his. If you
like my platform, I hope you vote for me. If you don't, vote for Dukakis.
(White 1982, 649)
During the primary contest Dukakis did not attempt to alter the dialogue of the
campaign. The incumbent governor, instead of stressing "pocket book" issues which tend
to unite Democrats, allowed King to draw him into a debate on social and cultural value
issues. Citing his "fundamentally different views" Dukakis explained his positions on
King's issues. In regard to capital punishment, Dukakis stated, "I do not believe that
capital punishment is an essential or even valuable tool in the fight against crime."6
Responding to a reporter's question on how he (Dukakis) thought the voters would react
to a Massachusetts version of Proposition 13, the California initiative to rollback property
6 Context of quote from Massachusetts Democratic gubernatorial candidates' debate, 31 August 1978.

65
taxes, the governor remarked, "Massachusetts voters were too smart to fall for a gimmick
like that" (Gaines & Segal 1987, 161).7
Dukakis' explanations of his positions on the social and cultural value issues raised
by King reinforced King's argument that Dukakis was too liberal for mainstream
Democrats. In response to a reporter's exit poll question on why he was voting for King,
Thomas Long, a blue collar Democrat, said, "Dukakis is too liberal on some items . and
I've voted for Dukakis before" (Anderson 1978). Walter J Ryan, an Irish union leader
backing King, responded in a similar fashion when queried about the King-Dukakis
contest, "The way I see it . . the liberal intelligentsia, the refugees of academia who have
been manipulating our lives with the bureaucracy are now on the defensive, and that's the
way we like it."8
Dukakis' responses also served to focus attention on controversial and often
unpopular aspects of his record. In 1975 Dukakis had vetoed a death penalty bill and
several bills authorizing minimum mandatory sentences for certain crimes approved by the
Massachusetts legislature, the General Court. As governor, Dukakis was on record
favoring public funding for abortion. In 1977 he had vetoed a bill which would have
eliminated state-funded abortions for the poor. Finally, Dukakis' position on taxes was
well-known. After reneging on his 1974 campaign pledge of no new taxes, the public,
aggravated by what they perceived as an already excessive tax burden and agitated by the
growing "Proposition 13 fever," was in no mood to forgive and forget.
In King's opinion, Dukakis regarded his opponent's strategy as "simplistic
buzzwords designed to confuse the electorate."9 Dukakis believed that based on his
competence and integrity the voters would reward him with renomination. Instead, on
7 In 1980, two years after Dukakis' defeat. Massachusetts voters adopted a similar tax cut measure,
known as Proposition 2 1/2, by a two-to-one margin.
8 "The Campaign Quotes." Boston Globe, 5 November 1978.
9 Shaun P. Hemess, interview with Edward J. King.

66
primary election day, September 19, 1978, the voters unceremoniously "dumped the
Duke." In a stunning political upset, Edward J King, businessman turned politician, won
51% of the vote to Dukakis' 42% and Ackermann's 7%. In the November general
election. King bested Republican candidate Francis W. Hatch, Jr. to become the only man
this century to be elected the governor of Massachusetts in his first try for public office.
Post election analyses of the primary attributed Dukakis' surprise defeat to King's
strategy of dividing the electorate by injecting social and cultural value issues into the
campaign dialogue. Reflecting on the primary outcome Boston Herald political columnist
Wayne Woodlief commented, "A dogged repetition of gut-level, emotional themes—anti¬
taxes, anti-abortion, pro-capital punishment—propelled Edward J. King to his stunning
upset of Governor Michael S Dukakis" (Woodlief 1978).
An October survey of those Democrats and Independents who voted in the
September 19th Democratic primary provided evidence to support Woodlief s
observation.10 The poll showed that three issues, the death penalty, property tax
reductions, and taxpayer paid abortions, provided King with handsome electoral dividends
(table 2). Seventy-four percent of those who opposed taxpayer paid abortions, 63% of
those who fa\’ored the death penalty for first degree murderers, and 59% of those who
favored a large scale property tax reduction voted for King. Similarly, those who took
different positions from King consistently supported Dukakis. Sixty-eight percent of those
who fa\'ored state funds for abortion, 67% of those who opposed the death penalty, and
61% of those who opposed a large scale property tax reduction voted for Dukakis.
Unfortunately for Dukakis, with the exception of the abortion issue, large majorities of
Democrats and Independents voting in the primary did not embrace his positions on the
death penalty and property tax reductions. Only 35% were opposed to the death penalty
10 Under Massachusetts law unaffiliated voters may cast ballots in either the Democratic or Republican
primaries.

67
TABLE 2
Post-Primary Survey Measuring Level of Support for
Edward J. King and Michael S. Dukakis Based on Support or Opposition
to State Funded Abortions, the Death Penalty, and Property Tax Reductions
SURVEY QUESTIONS
FAVOR
OPPOSE
FAVOR
NOTE
KING
OPPOSE
VOTE
KING
FAVOR
NOTE
DI KAKIS
OPPOSE
VOTE
1)1 KAKIS
Do you favor or oppose the use of
state funds for abortion for women
who cannot afford to pay for it
themselves?
52%
.V = 130
48%
V = 122
32%
/V = 42
74%
X - 90
68%
X = 88
26%
.V - 32
Do you fa\’or or oppose the death
penalty for first degree murder?
65%
.V 169
35%
.V - 90
63%
X = 106
33%
,V = 30
37%
¿V = 63
67%
.V = 60
Do you favor or oppose a large
scale property tax reduction in
Massachusetts similar to
California's Proposition 13?
63%
.V 162
37%
.V - 97
59%
X = 96
39%
X = 38
41%
X = 66
61%
-V = 59
SOURCE. Public Affairs Research Center. Clark University, survey conducted October 1978
and 37% were against property tax reductions.
A political environment where the electorate maintains clear preferences on
divisive issues can prove problematic to a candidate who is an advocate for policy
preferences embraced by a minority of the public. This is particularly true when divisive
issues such as the death penalty, taxes, and abortion dominate the campaign dialogue.
This was the case in the 1978 Massachusetts Democratic gubernatorial primary campaign.
Dukakis, stymied by King's aggressive strategy, did not attempt to alter the focus of the
campaign away from the challenger's social and cultural values agenda. Because Dukakis
was on the wrong side of a majority of public opinion on many of the social and cultural
value issues raised by King the incumbent's level of support was bound to be adversely
affected.

68
The October survey also indicated that King's strategy of tarring Dukakis with the
liberal label by emphasizing his and the incumbent's differences on certain social and
cultural value issues worked to isolate Dukakis from moderate Democrats. Evidence
suggests that among the major contestants, King and Dukakis, the challenger won because
he was able to forge a coalition of moderates and conservatives which more than offset
Dukakis' two-to-one win among self-described liberals." King defeated Dukakis among
self-described moderates in all but one of the demographic categories analyzed. Only
among white collar voters did Dukakis outperform King. King’s largest margins over
Dukakis among moderates were male voters (16%), blue collar voters (18%), voters with
a high school education or less (24%), and voters with incomes less than $15,000 a year
(30%).
Among self-described conservatives King consistently beat Dukakis by margins of
near two-to-one or better. In only two categories of conservatives, white collar voters
and women, did King outpoll Dukakis by a 10% margin or less. Overall the poll indicates
that among primary voters requesting a Democratic ballot King won 70% of self-described
conserv atives, 56% of self-described moderates, and 35% of self-described liberals.
Between the two candidates, this translated into King winning 53% of the overall primary
ballots cast by Democrat and Independent voters who participated in the primary.
The analysis of the results indicates that King was particularly successful at
winning support from low income, less educated, blue collar, male Democrats and
Independents; voters who shared demographic characteristics similar to those voters who
after 1980 became known in political circles as Reagan Democrats. Also, King was
successful at muting any perceived Dukakis advantage among women voters. Dukakis
11 For complete statistical data concerning the relationship between voter ideology and candidate
preferences please refer to the section of the appendix entitled, "Self-Described Ideological Tendencies &
Candidate Preferences Among Demographic Subgroups of Massachusetts Voters Who Participated in the
1978 Democratic Gubernatorial Primary ."

69
could not offset King's 14% advantage among men as both he and his challenger received
approximately 50% of the primary vote cast by women
The type and tone of the campaign King waged against Dukakis did not fall on
deaf political ears. The events surrounding the 1978 Massachusetts gubernatorial primary
campaign provided clues to the Bush research team on the normative features of an
election strategy that would successfully influence certain segments of the electorate,
particularly Reagan Democrats, to vote against Dukakis.
The "Negative Cluster": The Republicans Find Their Silver Bullets
Jim Pinkerton and, as Atwater often referred to them, his group of "thirty-five
excellent nerds" performed their research work admirably (Black & Oliphant 1989, 222).
The group's inquiries into Dukakis' record and the 1978 Democratic gubernatorial primary
campaign produced seven key issues which Bush strategists believed could cripple
Dukakis' presidential ambitions. Several issues were recycled from Edward J. King's
successful 1978 campaign; Dukakis' public positions in support of higher taxes and
taxpayer paid abortions and the Democratic nominee’s opposition to the death penalty and
mandatory drug sentences. Pinkerton's research uncovered other issues not used by King
but potentially as lethal. These issues included Massachusetts' prisoner furlough program,
the pollution of Boston Harbor, Dukakis' gubernatorial veto of a bill mandating the Pledge
of Allegiance in public schools, and Dukakis' opposition to a host of military weapons
systems. Each one of these issues by itself was not enough to permanently damage
Dukakis. But it was believed that as a collective the "negative cluster," as they became
known, provided enough evidence that Dukakis was a McGovern-style liberal whose
positions on these issues reflected values fundamentally different from those held by a

70
majority of Americans, particularly Democrats who had previously supported Ronald
Reagan.12 According to Atwater:
The swmg vote in almost every state or certainly in enough states to get
over 270 electoral votes was conservative, populist—to use a cliché,
Reagan Democrats. And if they didn't see any differences or particular
differences between the two candidates, guess what? They would have
gone back and been Democrats again They're always looking for an
excuse to be, because they are Democrats. (Runkel 1989, 112)
Recent scholarly research suggests that Atwater was correct. Edward G
Carmines and Michael Berkman argue that conservative Democrats retain their partisan
affiliation because of the political ethos which developed between the Democratic party
and those working-class institutions and groups victimized by the Great Depression with
which conservative Democrats identify:
Not only did the experience of the Great Depression forge a close link
between the Democratic party and socially and economically disadvantaged
groups but it also created a distinct and lasting unage of the party to its
identifiers and activists alike. The political ethos of the modem Democratic
party, in other words, should have its roots in the experiences of those
groups who were the mam victims of the Great Depression and who came
together to form Roosevelt's Democratic coalition. [Therefore] what unites
the diverse ideological factions of the Democratic party is their belief that
their party represents less privileged groups like the less-well-off, working
people, and the common man and woman as opposed to the Republicans'
core groups of business, the wealthy, and Wall Street. (Carmines & Berkman
1994, 210 & 216)
Given this situation, some scholars advise that to appeal to conservatives within
their own party Democratic candidates should emphasize class-based issues and populist
themes while portraying Republicans as economic elitists from privileged backgrounds.
Conversely, Republicans should seek ways to make ideology the focal point of political
decision-making so as to divide the Democratic coalition (Carmines & Berkman 1994,
Carmines & Stanley 1990; and Carmines & Stimson 1989).
12 The term "negative cluster” is used to identify the host of sy mbolic v alue issues used by Bush and the
Republicans to define Dukakis as a liberal.

71
Carmines and Berkman's analysis reflects Maddox and Lilie's assessment of the
economic and ideological cleavages present within the modern Democratic party-
cleavages that were successfully exploited by Edward J. King in his 1978 attempt to oust
Dukakis from the governor's office. Carmines and Berkman demonstrate that when
conservative Democrats are compared to liberal and moderate Democrats and Republicans
with respect to economic-based demographic characteristics such as education, income,
and class status conservative Democrats are quite similar to their partisan counterparts and
dissimilar to GOP partisans. Only on ideology and issues with distinct ideological appeal,
such as social and cultural value issues, do conservative Democrats display similar
predilections as Republicans. The polarization between economic and ideological
identifications has become so pronounced that conservative Democrats can now be
regarded as "persuadable" voters. The campaign that is successful at winning a majority
of conservative Democrat support depends on what issues, economic or ideological,
achieve saliency with this key electoral subgroup. For this reason former president
Richard M. Nixon believed that if used properly "the Dukakis positions on [the ideological
"negative cluster"] issues could prove to be neuralgic for Reagan Democrats" (Nixon
1988). Therefore, Bush's campaign operatives believed that the "negative cluster" issues
would provide the strategic means to differentiate the vice president from Dukakis among
this key electoral subgroup.
To test the saliency of the "negative cluster" issues the Bush campaign assembled a
series of focus groups composed of moderate to conservative working and middle class
Democrats who had previously voted for Ronald Reagan but had stated that they were
supporting Dukakis in 1988 The most celebrated of these focus groups was held in late
May in Paramus, New Jersey. Peering through a two-way mirror the Bush high command
composed of pollster Robert Teeter, Lee Atwater, Roger Ailes, and Bush friend and
confidant Nicholas Brady witnessed an extraordinary political about face:

72
When asked how they planned to vote in 1988, a majority answered
"Dukakis," even though most were dimly aware of his background
Because these were representative target voters whom Bush had to
win, the moderator began probing for issues that would brmg them to
Bush Each thrust was parried until the moderator asked, "What if I told
you that Dukakis vetoed a bill requirmg schoolchildren to say the Pledge
of Allegiance9 Or that he was against the death penalty9 Or that he gave
weekend furloughs to first-degree murderers?" One exclaimed, "He's a liberal!"
Another retorted, "If those are really his positions, I'd have a hard time
supporting him." (White 1989, 153)
Following the conclusion of the session the participants were polled again
regarding their 1988 presidential preference. In one group 40% changed their support
from Dukakis to Bush. In another, 60% switched to Bush When averaged together,
Dukakis' support level dropped by 50%, a staggering fall-off given that it usually takes
repeated exposure to negative information for voters to abandon even weakly held
preferences (Taylor 1990, 203). In response, a delighted Roger Ailes exclaimed, "That
little computer heart from Massachusetts isn't going to know what hit him" (Morrison
1988, 223). Atwater commented, "After those sessions, I knew we had the wherewithal
to win. I realized right then and there that the sky was the limit on Dukakis' negatives"
(Taylor 1990, 203). When shown a video tape of the Paramus interviews the vice
president reportedly remarked, "They don't know this guy's record" (White 1989, 154).
Thus was born the strategy to use the "negative cluster" issues framed in the context of
widely shared social and cultural values as a mechanism to elicit negative predispositions
associated with the label "liberal."
The Psychology of the Republican Strategy
The success of the Bush strategy relies on what psychologists have identified as
the ability to influence individuals' cognitive structures and processes that in turn
influences the complexity level of their political reasoning Psychologists refer to these
influence-susceptible cognitive structures as schemas Schemas organize both memory

73
and cognition into specific thematic structures. When an individual obtains new
information, specific cognitive schemas filter, select, encode, and integrate it into new or
existing cognitive structures (Milburn 1991, 73).
Four different types of schemas have been identified and developed: person, self,
role, and event (Fiske & Taylor 1991). The category appropriate for discussion
concerning the 1988 Bush campaign is the person schema. Person schemas contain
knowledge and beliefs about typical people, their characteristics, and their intentions. The
decision by the Bush campaign and its surrogates to "educate" voters on Governor
Dukakis' veto of a bill requiring school children to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, the
Massachusetts prison furlough program and Willie Horton, and the Democratic nominee's
public record and positions on the death penalty, taxes, mandatory sentencing, and
national defense issues provided the necessary stimuli for voters, particularly ideological
conservatives, to associate Dukakis with their pre-existing cognitive structures concerning
the label "liberal."
The ability to influence individuals' schemas or cognitive structures of candidates is
often done in the context of "priming" and "framing." To engage in the act of influencing
a person's cognitive structure or schema is to engage in the act of priming. To prime is to
instruct or prepare someone or something beforehand In the psychological context, to
prime someone would require the "presentation of an attitude object(s) toward which the
individual processes a strong evaluative association that would automatically activate that
evaluation" (Fazio 1989, 157). In the 1988 campaign the "negative cluster" issues served
as attitude objects which when processed activated individual evaluations associated with
the label "liberal."
"Activating an accessible construct through priming should increase its impact over
other attitudes, judgments, and behaviors" (Sears 1993, 138). The available literature
concerning the 1988 presidential campaign suggests that Bush and his strategists were

74
quite successful at using priming to associate Dukakis, first and foremost in the minds of
many voters, with the label "liberal "
The act of priming is often done through what is referred to as framing-
packaging ideas so that within each idea is embedded a dominant frame or viewpoint
which acts as a central organizing concept or story line implying a particular policy
alternative (Sears 1993, 128) According to David O. Sears:
The frame is displayed in "signature elements" that invoke the whole package
through condensing symbols. Which frame dominates in the communications
media may change overtime as the political battle goes on. The persuasive
success of any given frame depends on the "cultural resonances" or larger
cultural themes it invokes. All this can be put in the language of symbolic
politics: each frame presents a different symbolic meaning of the attitude object,
including different symbolic elements, and its relative success depends on the
symbolic predispositions it evokes. (Sears 1993. 128)
Clearly the "signature elements" of George Bush's 1988 campaign which helped to
frame the perception that Dukakis was a liberal were the "negative cluster" issues. But
what is important to note is that Bush's strategy was successful only because of the
framing of the term "liberal" itself which presaged the 1988 campaign.

HYPOTHESES, DATA SOURCES, AND METHODOLOGY
The Hypotheses
The practical elements of the 1988 Republican presidential general election
strategy are theoretically based on the tenets posited by the theory of symbolic politics and
schema theory. Specifically, George Bush employed issues with distinct symbolic meaning
(the "negative cluster") to evoke affective predispositions based on shared values inherent
to the American political culture.
In social-psychological terms, voters' shared value predispositions were activated
by Republican efforts to influence individuals' cognitive knowledge structures relating to
their person schemas of Michael Dukakis and their attribute structures of both candidates.
To influence voters' person schemas of Dukakis, the Bush campaign and its surrogates
"educated" voters on Governor Dukakis' veto of a bill requiring school children to recite
the Pledge of Allegiance, the Massachusetts prison furlough program and Willie Horton,
and the Democratic nominee's record and public positions on the death penalty, taxes,
mandatory sentencing, and national defense issues. To influence voters' candidate
attribute structures Bush often publicly contrasted his positions on the "negative cluster"
issues with those of Dukakis.
The purpose of the Republican's education exercise was to frame the "negative
cluster" issues in a manner where voters would infer that Dukakis did not subscribe to
shared American political and cultural values and as such could be classified as a liberal.
By framing the symbolic "negative cluster" issues to stimulate affective predispositions
associated with shared American values, the Bush campaign provided the necessary
75

76
stimuli for voters, particularly ideological conservatives, to associate Dukakis with their
pre-existing cognitive knowledge structures concerning the label "liberal." Therefore, the
symbolic "negative cluster" issues served as attitude objects which, when processed,
activated individual evaluations (ideological schemas) associated with the label "liberal"
David O Sears, in his discussion of priming and framing, states that "the frame is
displayed in 'signature elements' that invoke the whole package through condensing
symbols" (Sears 1993, 128). Clearly the "signature elements" of George Bush's 1988
campaign which helped to frame the perception that Dukakis was a liberal were the
symbolic "negative cluster" issues But it is important to note that Bush's strategy was
predicated on the framing of the term "liberal" itself which presaged the 1988 campaign
"Which frame dominates in the communication media may change overtime as the political
battle goes on" (Sears 1993, 128). George Bush was able to use the symbolic "negative
cluster" issues to stimulate negative value-based predispositions associated with the label
"liberal" because voters' understanding of the meaning of the term had undergone a major
transformation during the 20 years before George Bush and Michael Dukakis met on the
political battlefield.
The purpose of the current research is to use quantitative techniques to examine
and measure the impact of symbolic value issues on voting behavior. Quantitative
evidence supporting the theoretical framework of this analysis as it relates to the practical
strategy employed by the Republican general election campaign will be gathered to test the
following hypotheses:
The Primary Hypotheses
The inquiry seeks to answer two questions. First, did the Republican strategy of
using the symbolic "negative cluster" value issues in the 1988 presidential general election
campaign succeed in creating a perception among the electorate that Michael Dukakis was

too liberal9 Second, were the symbolic "negative cluster" value issues employed by the
Bush campaign significant in influencing vote choice in 1988°
77
The first hypothesis to be tested is as follows:
H j: During the course of the general election campaign the strength of association
between vote choice and perceptions that Michael S. Dukakis was too liberal increased
among the electorate.
The second hypothesis to be tested is as follows:
Hr. The symbolic ",negative duster" value issues used by the Hush campaign to frame
Michael S. Dukakis as a liberal were significant factors influencing vote choice against
the Democratic presidential nominee.
The Subsidiary Hypotheses
Other factors may have influenced vote choice. Two issues in particular, the
economy and experience, deserve attention as both scholars and political experts claim
each had an impact on the election results.
Paul Abramson et al. claim that voters used assessments of past performance to
make comparative judgments on how each candidate. Bush and Dukakis, would conduct
themselves as president (Abramson et al. 1990). Basing their conclusions on the theory of
retrospective voting, they argue in their study of the 1988 election that "Bush won in large
part because Reagan was seen as having performed well—and people thought Bush would
stay the course (Abramson et al. 1990, 195). Retrospective voting, according to
V. 0. Key, Jr., is a process in which voters come to electoral decisions based on
evaluations of past incumbent performance (Key 1964, 1966). Key argues that when
citizens cast their ballots they engage in an act of reward or punishment based on their
perceptions of changes in their own and the nation's welfare
However, Key's concept of retrospective voting seems inadequate to explain the
type of performance evaluations Abramson et al. claim took place among the electorate in

78
1988 Key's understanding of retrospective voting only accounts for voters evaluating the
past performance of the incumbent, not the expected future performance. Anthony
Downs and Morris Fiorina offer a different perspective that accounts for Abramson's
contention that voters engaged in comparative judgments of how Bush and Dukakis
would act as president. Along with evaluations of past performance, prospective
assessments of future performance are included in Downs' and Fiorina's understanding of
retrospective voting. Downs and Fiorina contend that it is also important to assess how
the evaluation of past performance compares to the alternative offered by the opposition in
estimating future performance. In this way retrospective voters evaluate not only what
has been done, but what might be done in the future (Downs 1957; Fiorina 1981).
A wealth of scholarly research has been devoted to analyzing economic effects on
voting behavior (Powell & Whitten 1993; MacKuen, Erikson, & Stimson 1992, Sigelman,
Sigelman, & Bullock 1991; Jacobson 1990, Erikson 1989; Kinder, Adams, & Gronke
1989; Abramowitz, Lanoue, & Ramesh 1988, Lewis-Beck 1988, Markus 1988, Radcliff
1988, Feldman 1982, 1985, Kiewiet 1983, Mackuen 1983, Fiorina 1981, Lau & Sears
1981, Tufte 1978; Key 1964, 1966). Scholars have asserted that economic considerations
figure prominently in an individual's retrospective assessments. Economic issues, more
than any others, have received attention as retrospective issues (Abramson et al. 1990,
186). Morris Fiorina acknowledges the importance of retrospective economic assessments
to the electoral fortunes of political candidates:
A familiar special case of retrospective voting is the widespread
belief that members of the incumbent party enjoy electoral success
during periods of economic improvement and, correspondingly,
suffer electoral losses during periods of economic decline. (Fiorina 1981, 25)
Abramson et al argue that voter assessments of prevailing economic conditions
played a major role in the outcome of the 1988 election. They conclude that voters
thought Reagan performed well on economic matters and thus rewarded his vice president
with the presidency in the belief that Bush would continue the economic prosperity

79
achieved during the preceding eight years. If Abramson, Aldrich, and Rohde are correct,
the robust strength of the U S. economy both preceding and during the 1988 election
cycle should have benefited the candidate of the incumbent party, Republican George
Bush To ascertain the effects of the economy on voting behavior the research will
attempt to determine if the economy was a significant factor that influenced vote choice.
Therefore, the third hypothesis to be tested is as follows:
Hy The economy was a significant factor influencing voters to choose George Bush.
In addition to the economy, candidate experience may have been a salient voting
issue. The Bush campaign placed great emphasis on the vice president's experience,
particularly as it related to foreign affairs. Bush's positive paid media advertising
underscored the vice president's impressive résumé and years of service in a variety of
domestic and international positions. Several commercials highlighted Bush's career and
showcased the vice president with a host of prominent international figures including
Soviet leader Gorbachev, British Prime Minister Thatcher, and Polish Solidarity Union
leader Lech Walesa A commercial tag line summarized the campaign's experience theme:
"The more you learn how George Bush came this far, the more you realize that perhaps no
one this century is better prepared to be President of the United States."1
However, the Republican campaign also used the vice president’s perceived
advantage in another fashion. They asked voters to make an assessment of how Bush and
Dukakis would perform their duties as chief executive based on comparing the two
candidate's past national political and governmental experience. "Experienced leadership
for America's future," the visual tag line for many Bush commercials, invited voters to
make assessments of future performance based on comparing past performance and
1 The quote was used in the Bush commercials entitled "Oath of Office", "Family/Children", and
"Youngest Pilot."

80
probable performance, a schema similar to the form of retrospective assessment Abramson
et al. claim underscored voter decisions concerning evaluations of the candidates with
respect to the economy.
Sidney Blumenthal claims that "George Bush won the presidency by arousing fear
about the future," suggesting that on matters of presidential responsibility, particularly in
foreign policy, the vice president framed the choice as between an expert with an
acknowledged record of past achievement and an unqualified and unprepared novice
(Blumenthal 1990, 319).
The differences between the two candidates were more pronounced with respect
to foreign rather than domestic policy experience. Bush's stature, reputation, and resume
in the foreign arena stood in stark contrast to Governor Dukakis' lack of familiarity with
international matters. To capitalize on this distinguishing feature, the Republicans focused
their efforts on raising public awareness of differences between Bush’s and Dukakis'
experience in foreign affairs. To emphasize that the vice president was the better choice
to handle such matters, the Bush campaign tied Dukakis' lack of foreign policy expertise
to softness on national defense issues. Framed as a "risk America can't afford to take," the
Bush campaign used the now famous "Tank-ride" commercial to exploit their candidate's
experience in foreign affairs by implying that the Democratic nominee's positions on
national defense issues demonstrated his naivete and unsuitability to handle American
foreign policy.
Therefore, to ascertain if Bush's emphasis on experience was a significant factor in
influencing voters to choose him instead of his Democratic opponent the fourth hypothesis
to be tested is as follows:
Hp Experience was a significant factor influencing voters to choose George Bush.

81
Data Sources and Methodology
The Primary Hypotheses
To test the primary hypotheses data from both ABC News Washington Post and
CBS News New York Times cross-national surveys conducted periodically throughout the
1988 general election cycle will be evaluated. Data from four ABC News Washington
Post surveys are used with the first having been completed in July, the second in August
during the Republican National Convention, the third in September and October, and the
fourth an exit poll survey conducted on election day, Tuesday November 8th.2 Data from
eight CBS News New York Times surveys are used with the first having been completed in
May and the final survey an election day exit poll.3
Two methodological approaches are used to conduct the research. To test the first
primary hypothesis which attempts to measure the extent that perceptions of Dukakis as
too liberal affected vote choice, an interrupted time series will be developed composed of
Kendall's tau-b statistics and ridit scores. The tau-b statistic is used to test the strength of
association between electoral choice and voters' perceptions of Michael Dukakis as too
liberal Ridit scores test the probability that a Bush supporter, when compared to a
Dukakis supporter, thought that Dukakis was too liberal. To generate the tau-b statistics
and the ridit scores data from the ABC News Washington Post surveys are used.
In examining the relationship between the electorate's perceptions of Michael
Dukakis' views and their vote choice, it is useful to identify important events which
2 The July survey had a sample size of 1,539; the August survey had a sample size of 1,396; the
September and October survey had a sample size of 16.898; and the November 8th election day exit poll
had a sample size of 95.167.
3 1988 CBS \Tews/New York Times surveys used in this research include: May 9-12. sample size 1.382;
September 8-11. sample size 1,606; September 21-23. sample size 1.195; September 25, sample size
1,195; October 1-3. sample size 1,530; October 5. sample size 1,530; November 2-4. sample size 1,977;
and November 8th election day exit poll, sample size 11,645.

82
occurred during the general election campaign that may have influenced how voters
perceived Dukakis. Therefore, a chronological summary of the political environment
around the time each survey was conducted will be provided in conjunction with reporting
the appropriate tau-b statistics and ridit score results.
It can be argued that the 1988 general election campaign began once it was clear
who would be the major party candidates By June it was apparent that Bush and Dukakis
would be competing in the November finale. Therefore, the July survey serves as a pre¬
test and the September/October survey a post-test since the general election cycle began
and Bush's value-based strategy was implemented within the confínes of this time frame.
The August survey is particularly important because of the emphasis the media
places on presidential nomination acceptance speeches and the actual tenor of Bush's
address itself. With national media attention focused on the acceptance address the event
becomes a forum for the electorate to get a sense of the candidates. The acceptance
address is the first opportunity a presidential candidate has to speak to the nation as the
official nominee of his or her party. The address allows the candidate the opportunity to
define him or herself to the nation as well as a chance to define the opponent. In addition,
the speech permits the nominee to preview which issues will be emphasized in the general
election contest. For the purposes of this research, the significance of the event itself and
Bush's decision to delineate his positions with those of his opponent on the symbolic
"negative cluster" value issues provides an opportunity to assess how the electorate as a
whole, its partisan and gender subclassifications, and Democrats who had voted for
Reagan reacted to the speech, and media coverage and commentary of it, in terms of their
perceptions of Michael Dukakis.
In addition, to confirm or refute the contention that the Bush campaign
successfully defined Dukakis as a liberal, data from the CBS News New York Times
surveys will be used to show the percentage of voters who perceived Dukakis to be a
liberal and how that perception changed as a percentage of the electorate across time.

83
To test the second primary hypothesis data from the ABC News Washington Post
election day exit poll survey is used. The research will employ probit to test the
significance of the symbolic "negative cluster" value issues on vote choice. The model is
developed from a survey question that asked respondents to choose from a predetermined
list of items those issues that had an influencing effect on their presidential vote choice.4
The probit technique will be used on the following multivariate regression model
to test the significance of the 20 issues from which respondents could select that were
important in making their presidential vote choice:
Y — (X + X] + JCt “b ... X¡ where Y vote choice, xy = abortion. *2 = the
death penalty’, xy - the Pledge of Allegiance issue, x _/ - the ACLU, xy = prison furloughs. xp -
the Dukakis Bush presidential debates, xy the Bentsen Quayle vice presidential debate, x# =
party affiliation, xg presidential candidate's personality. x¡g = college costs. x¡¡= health
care, xy 7 = the environment. xjy drugs, xjy education, xjy = the Iran Contra scandal,
xjfí = social security, xy 7 = capital gains tax, xy# = foreign competition, xjg = Bush's choice of
Dan Quayle for vice president, and xyp Dukakis' choice of Lloyd Bentsen for vice president.
In this model the variables x, through x5 correspond to the social and cultural
value-based symbolic "negative cluster" issues.5
The first primary hypothesis will be tested for the electorate in general, its partisan
subgroups, gender, region, and the Republican's target audience, Democrats who voted
for Ronald Reagan.6 The analyses of Reagan Democrats will be conducted controlling for
income, education, and class. The gender-based analyses will be conducted controlling for
race.7 In addition to those categories the second hypothesis will be also tested for specific
subnational electorates, principally California, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey,
4 The survey question considered in the probit analyses is reproduced in the appendix.
5 The surv ey question used in the research had responses corresponding to only five of the "negative
cluster" issues used by Bush: The Pledge of Allegiance, abortion, the death penalty, the American Civil
Liberties Union (ACLU). and prison furloughs.
6 Reagan Democrats are defined to be those Democrats who voted for Ronald Reagan in the 1984 election.
7 The sample sizes of the ABC News/Washington Post and CBS News/New York Times polls used in the
analyses measuring changes in voter perceptions of Michael Dukakis are insufficient to permit

84
Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas. These eight states are chosen for analysis because each
has a large number of electoral votes or figured prominently in both the Bush and Dukakis
strategies to achieve an electoral vote majority.
The Subsidiary Hypotheses
The model developed from the survey question and its responses included in the
ABC News Washington Post election day exit poll suffers in one respect. Four potentially
significant variables, two of which are from the symbolic "negative cluster" value issues
category, are absent from the model. The question analyzed does not include responses
for four issues: experience, national defense, taxes, and the economy. Each of these issues
may have had an effect on vote choice. To test the subsidiary hypotheses and assess the
extent to which taxes and national defense influenced vote choice, a new model will be
constructed and analyzed using data from the CBS News New York Times election day exit
poll survey. The model will include eighteen variable responses from a combination of
two survey questions in which respondents could select those issues or factors which
mattered most in deciding their presidential vote.8 The probit technique is again used to
test variable significance in the following multivariate regression model:
Y = OC A- (HjXj + $1X2 T-... fi[Xi where Y = vote choice, Xj = crime. X2 = taxes. Xg =
abortion. X_f = Dukakis' liberal views, Xj patriotic values, X¡j = defense issues, Xy = relations
with the Soviet Union. Xg = helping the Middle Class, Xg = the environment, Xjq = economic
prosperity and jobs, X¡ ¡ = The budget deficit. Xj2 = the vice presidential candidates. Xjj =
political party, X¡ g = helping the poor, Xjj = likeability, XJesse Jackson's role. Xjy = the
presidential debates. X/g = experience
statistically significant results controlling for black men and black women. However, the sample sizes of
the exit poll surveys used in the probit analyses are sufficient to include control categories for black men
and black women.
8 The survey questions considered in the probit analyses are reproduced in the appendix.

85
In this model variables x, through x6 correspond to the social and cultural value-
based symbolic "negative cluster" issues. The death penalty and the prison furlough issues
are reflected in the crime variable and the Pledge of Allegiance issue is represented by the
patriotic values variable. This model will not only test the significance of the economy,
experience, taxes, and national defense on vote choice but will provide additional
statistical evidence to support or refute the results of the probit tests conducted for the
model testing the second primary hypothesis.
The subsidiary hypotheses will be tested for the electorate in general, its partisan
subgroups, gender controlling for race, region, Reagan Democrats controlling for income
and education, and among voters residing in the electorally strategic states of California,
Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas..
The Problem of Multicollinearity
When quantitatively analyzing social science data it is important to be aware of the
potential problems resulting from a condition known as multicollinearity. As Michael
Lewis-Beck observes, "With nonexperimental social science data, the independent
variables are virtually always intercorrelated, that is, multicollinear When this condition
becomes extreme, serious estimation problems arise" (Lewis-Beck 1980, 58). A
procedure outlined by Lewis-Beck was employed to determine if multicollinearity posed a
problem in the current research. To ascertain the effects, if any, of multicollinearity on the
probit results the bivariate Pearson correlations among the independent variables were
examined. The correlations for each of the ABC News, Washington Post and CBS
News New York Times models were analyzed. In those instances where the correlations
were greater than the model coefficient of multiple determination an ordinary least squares
regression was performed Each independent variable whose bivariate correlation was
greater than the model R2 was regressed as the dependent variable on the other

86
independent variables. In no instance did the resulting R2 significantly approach unity at
1.0 (Lewis-Beck 1980, 58-62). Therefore, it can be assumed that multicollinearity does
not significantly impact the validity of the partial slope estimates of the models analyzed in
the present research The results of this analysis are included in the appendix
Can Voters Accurately Report the Reasons for Their Behavior9
The Controversy Concerning Voluntary Recall Measures
The validity of the methodology employed in the current research relies on the
assumption that voters, when surveyed, can accurately recall the motives for their electoral
behavior. However, universal consensus is absent among researchers, particularly in the
field of social psychology, concerning the validity of recall measures as accurate
representations of factors that determine voluntary individual actions.
Although it seems relatively straightforward to ask why a voluntary
action was undertaken, some psychologists warn that we must treat
retrospective reconstructions of reasons or motivations with caution.
They argue that people may not be able to identify the factors that
influenced them. (Verba, Schlozman, & Brady 1995, 105-106)
The argument that people may not accurately recall the motives for their behavior
was initially advanced by Richard Nisbett and Timothy DeCamp Wilson. In their
influential work entitled, "Telling More Than We Can Know: Verba! Reports on Mental
Processes, "Nisbett and Wilson review evidence which suggests that when considering
individual's thought patterns there may be minimal direct introspective access to higher
order cognitive processes. Individuals are sometimes (1) unaware of the existence of a
stimulus that was significant in influencing a response, (2) unaware of the existence of a
response, and (3) unaware that the stimulus has affected the response. When reporting on
their cognitive processes, Nisbett and Wilson argue, individuals do not engage in true
introspection. Their reports are based on "a priori, implicit causal theories, or judgments
about the extent to which a particular stimulus is a plausible cause of a given response"

87
(Nisbett & Wilson 1977, 231). Nisbett and Wilson's argument suggests that people may
accurately report the motives for their responses despite being unable to observe directly
their mental cognition. Accurate verbal reports will occur, they claim, only when
influential stimuli are, (1) available and (2) plausible causes of the response, and when (3)
few or no plausible but non-influential factors are available" (Nisbett & Wilson 1977,
253).
Nisbett and Wilson's argument that people do not have access to cognitive
processes that cause behavior has generated a high degree of controversy among social
psychology scholars. Analysis and research conducted by other students of mental
processes challenge the arguments advanced by Nisbett and Wilson (Smith & Miller 1978,
White 1980, Ericsson & Simon 1980, Sabini & Silver 1981, Wright & Rip 1981, Kraut &
Lewis 1982; Gavanski & Hoffman 1987).
Eliot Smith and Frederick Miller question the findings of Nisbett and Wilson
criticizing their research on theoretical and methodological grounds. Smith and Miller
argue that Nisbett and Wilson state their argument in a nonfalsifiable fashion. "Nisbett and
Wilson regard both correct and incorrect reports as illustrating their position. This means
that their hypothesis cannot be falsified simply by demonstrating that there are occasions
when peoples' verbal self-reports on their mental processes are correct" (Smith & Miller
1978, 356).
Smith and Miller also criticize Nisbett and Wilson for defining "causality" in a
fashion that denies subjects under study access to information. Smith and Miller observe
that Nisbett and Wilson's claim that subjects generally did not report that their responses
to various experimental tests using word pairings were influenced by memorizational tasks
implicitly employs "an impossible criterion for introspective awareness: that subjects be
aware of what we systematically and effectively hide from them by our experimental
designs" (Smith & Miller 1978, 356). In essence, the word cause could have different
meanings to an experimenter and a subject under evaluation. "Subjects may not

88
understand the experimenter's questions in the sense that the experimenter intended them
and so may give unexpected answers" (Smith & Miller 1978, 359).
In addition to criticizing Nisbett and Wilson with regard to causality Smith and
Miller argue that additional flaws in their analysis include; (1) the lack of an adequate
description of the mental processes on which subjects cannot report and (2) inadequate
statistical tests more appropriate for testing hypotheses at the group rather than the
individual level. Reanalyzing data from a study conducted by Nisbett and his associates
Smith and Miller, using tests appropriate for individual-level analysis, report that "there is
substantial and certainly significant evidence for introspective self-awareness" on the part
of the individuals participating in the study. Smith and Miller conclude that while Nisbett
and Wilson's research is "important and stimulating ... we view their argument for the
inaccessibility of mental process as sound in its application to some situations, but their
claim that access is almost never possible is overstated" (Smith & Miller 1978, 361).
Other scholars embrace Smith and Miller's conclusions (White 1980; Wright & Rip
1981, Kraut & Lewis 1982, Gavanski & Hoffman 1987). Each conducted experiments
designed to test the ability of subjects to retrieve valid measures of prior judgments of
preference. While their experiments did not refute Nisbett and Wilson's original
hypothesis, they did find instances where subjects accurately recalled reasons for their
judgments and preferences suggesting that some motives may be more accessible in
memory than are others. As Kraut and Lewis suggest, "We have shown that people have
a moderate amount of knowledge about the factors influencing their judgments of other
people. Our data and the parallel research by White (1980) renders highly implausible the
null hypothesis that people have no introspective awareness about their higher order
cognitive processes" (Kraut & Lewis 1982, 459). Wright and Rip caution that it would be
irresponsible to conclusively determine that people do not have access to cognitive
processes that cause behavior because the sophistication of available research
methodology is limited. "Within the limits of the simplistic designs and measures that are

available, the current results call for moderation of the sweeping conclusion of no
awareness or retrieval abilities reached by Nisbett and Wilson" (Wright & Rip 1981, 613).
Even though evidence exists which suggests that people do have access to
cognitive processes which cause behavior, it is important to recognize that when
discussing how people decide, particularly with regard to political issues or candidates,
that certain external influences or biases may inject themselves into individuals' decision¬
making processes. As Smith and Miller note:
Verbal self-report has many shortcomings as an index of access to
mental process. A failure of verbal self-report need not indicate a
lack of introspective access. Verbal responses are subject to
various outside influences, such as social desirability, evaluation
apprehension, and demand characteristics. (Smith & Miller 1978, 359)
In politics, racial biases have often been cited as influencing people's decision¬
making processes and thus affecting their vote choices. The 1989 Virginia gubernatorial
race provides the perfect example. Afro-American Lieutenant Governor L Douglas
Wilder was selected as the Democratic candidate. If successful in the general election,
Wilder would become the first black person elected governor of an American state. On
election day, November 7th, exit polls conducted by Mason-Dixon Opinion Research
reported Wilder winning by 10 percentage points over his Republican opponent, Marshall
Coleman. However, when the ballots were tallied Wilder defeated Coleman by a meager
6,741 vote margin out of a record 1,787,131 cast, the closest election in Virginia's history.
Wilder's plurality equated to fewer than three votes per precinct (Edds 1990, 23 7).9
The closeness of the election has been attributable to white Democrats defecting
from Wilder. The issue of race has been identified as the reason for the huge discrepancy
between the exit poll figures and the actual election results:
9 Margaret Edds' book. Claiming the Dream, provides the most complete and comprehensive discussion
and qualitative analysis of the 1989 Virginia gubernatorial election.

90
[A] factor that might have tipped the polls in Wilder's favor
is the widely recognized difficulty in getting honest answers
to racially sensitive questions when the race of the interviewer
and the respondent differ. This is less a problem, poll takers
say, when blacks are being questioned by whites. But there is
a decided difference in the way whites respond to a white
questioner and a black one on matters involving race. Apparently,
many whites supply answers they think the black interviewer
wants to hear. (Edds 1990, 243)
A poll conducted by two University of Virginia professors during the general
election campaign found whites less supportive of Wilder when interviewers were white
than when the interviewers were black. In addition, pollsters say that some voters,
particularly white Democrats, who did not intend to vote for Wilder on the basis of race
may have lied to interviewers in both pre-election and exit polls. Brad Coker, president of
Mason-Dixon Opinion Research, believed that such deception was the primary reason for
the miscalculation in his exit poll (Edds 1990, 243). The circumstances surrounding the
1989 Virginia gubernatorial election suggest that a two minute exit poll survey may be
inadequate to assess the ability of respondents to access cognitive processes which cause
certain behavior, particularly if external influences, such as racial biases, are present.
Political science scholars often use recall measures in their research The basis for
much of their analyses uses data gathered from ANES and other survey-based studies
which rely on respondents' abilities to recount motives for their own political behavior
However, in light of the controversy surrounding recall measures as accurate indicators of
individuals' cognitive decision-making processes, it is important to note in research that
employs such measures that a conclusive determination of their validity remains elusive
Comprehensive studies, such as the ANES surveys, are format extensive permitting the
use of various probing techniques to help facilitate the elicitation of valid recall measure
responses. Environmental circumstances associated with exit polls, such as time
constraints and interviewer characteristics, may compromise the validity of recall measures
by either not permitting a thorough probing of behavior motives or allowing personal

91
biases to influence respondents' decision-making processes. The ability to probe for
deeper understanding of why an individual acted in a particular fashion is severely limited
by the nature of the exit poll itself

LONGITUDINAL DATA ANALYSIS: MEASURING CHANGES IN VOTER
PERCEPTIONS OF MICHAEL S DUKAKIS
July 1988
The political environment. During the late spring and early summer when it
became apparent that the general election contest would cast George Bush against
Michael Dukakis the vice president began to weave into his public speeches references to
those issues that the Republican researchers had found were successful in moving their
targeted audiences away from Dukakis and toward Bush. The vice president's first
pointed attack on Dukakis using the "negative cluster" issues that would later dominate
the general election dialogue occurred during his address to the Texas Republican state
convention held in Houston on June 9th Prominent in Bush's speech was his first public
reference concerning the Massachusetts prison furlough program. Criticizing Dukakis for
being overly sympathetic to criminals, in favor of high taxes, and a "Harvard boutique
liberal," the vice president commented, "His [Dukakis'] values are too often, in my
judgment, out of the mainstream" (Black & Oliphant 1989, 223). Four days later in
Louisville, Kentucky Bush first mentioned the name of Willie Horton in an address to the
National Sheriffs' Association In the speech the vice president again derided Dukakis as
soft on crime "Clint Eastwood's answer to crime is 'go ahead. Make my day,"' said Bush.
"My opponent's answer is slightly different: 'Go ahead Have a nice weekend"' (Black &
Oliphant 1989, 225).
However, the lack of public attention focused on the general election and the
Democrat's monopoly of the media during July resulting from the continued challenge by
92

93
TABLE 3
THE ELECTORATE, PARTISAN CLASSIFICATIONS,
GEND R/RACE, AND REGION
Strength of Association Between Vote Choice and Perceptions of
Michael S. Dukakis as Too Liberal and the Probability that a Bush Supporter,
When Compared to a Dukakis Supporter, Thought that Dukakis was Too Liberal.
Month
July 88
August 88
Sept/Oct 88
Difference
Sept/Oct-July
Statistic^
?b
rs
7b
rs
7b
rs
7b
rs
All Voters
.529
.786
.651
.843
.714
.876
+.185
+.090
Democrats
183
627
.448
805
615
.874
+.432
+.247
Republicans
412
.761
.581
.820
.450
.862
+.038
+.101
Independents
.527
.790
665
852
.591
.816
+.064
+.026
Reagan Democrats
.484
.758
.483
.764
.714
.874
+.230
+.116
Men
.494
773
.630
.834
660
.852
+.166
+.079
Women
.576
804
.662
.847
.768
.888
+.192
+.084
White Men
.523
787
.659
849
666
.855
+.143
+.068
White Women
.596
.814
.662
.846
.747
.888
+.151
+.074
Northeast^
.356
.695
.610
825
.646
.845
+.290
+.150
Southc
.653
.842
.658
.848
.748
.890
+.095
+.048
Midwest^
.461
.751
.686
.857
.673
.854
+.212
+.103
Weste
.660
.857
.645
.840
.715
.878
+.055
+.021
Note: Question analyzed in the July. August, and September/October surveys: "Are Michael Dukakis'
views too liberal for you, just about right, or too conservative for you?"
a Tis the Kendall's tau-b statistic and rs is the ridit score. Tau-b is used instead of the gamma statistic
to determine strength of association because it is more precise as it uses tied pairings in addition to both
concordant and discordant pairs in its calculation. Please see the appendix for a more thorough discussion
of ridit scores.
^ Northeastern states include Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts. Rhode Island. New York,
Connecticut. New Jersey. Pennsy lvania. Delaware, Mary land, West Virginia. & District of Columbia.
c Southern states include Virginia. North Carolina, South Carolina. Georgia. Florida, Kentucky', Texas.
Tennessee, Alabama. Mississippi. Arkansas. & Louisiana.
dMidwestern states include Ohio. Indiana. Michigan, Illinois. Wisconsin. Minnesota, Iowa. Missouri,
North Dakota, South Dakota. Nebraska. Kansas. & Oklahoma.
e Western states include Montana. Wyoming, Colorado. New Mexico. Idaho. Utah. Arizona. Nevada.
Washington, Oregon. California, Alaska, & Hawaii.

94
TABLE 4
REAGAN DEMOCRATS
Strength of Association Between Vote Choice and Perceptions of
Michael S. Dukakis as Too Liberal and the Probability that a Bush Supporter,
When Compared to a Dukakis Supporter, Thought that Dukakis was Too Liberal.
Month
July 88
Sept/Oct 88
Difference
Sept/Oct-Julv
Statistic7
rs
7b
rs
7b
rs
Democrats
vv ho v oted
for Reagan
.484
.758
.714
.874
+.230
+.116
Working Class
Democrats w ho voted
for Reagan
.609
.860
.576
.810
cn
CO
©
i
-.050
Middle Class
Democrats w ho voted
for Reagan
.326
.682
.844
.930
+.518
+.248
Democrats who v oted
for Reagan less than
S30,000/vear
.228
.615
.631
.836
+.403
+.221
Democrats who voted
for Reagan greater than
S30,000/year
.702
.879
.785
.900
+.083
+.021
Democrats who voted
for Reagan high school
graduates or less
.521
.751
.640
.845
+.119
+.094
Democrats w ho voted
for Reagan some college
education or more
.464
.758
.820
.910
+.356
+.152
Note: Question analyzed in the July, August, and September/October surveys: "Are Michael Dukakis'
view s too liberal for you, just about right, or too conservative for you?"
Tfj is the Kendall's tau-b statistic and rs is the ridit score. Tau-b is used instead of the gamma statistic
to determine strength of association because it is more precise as it uses tied pairings in addition to both
concordant and discordant pairs in its calculation. Please see appendix for a more thorough discussion of
ridit scores.

95
Strength of Association Between Vote Choice and Perceptions of
Michael S. Dukakis as Too Liberal, July to September/October 1988
08
All Voters Democrats Republicans Independents Democrats
w ho voted
for Reagan
â–¡ July â–¡ August â–  September/October
FIGURE l/The Electorate and Its Partisan Classifications
Ridit Score Estimates of the Probability that a Bush Supporter, When
Compared to a Dukakis Supporter, Thought that Dukakis was Too
Liberal, July-September/October 1988
All Voters
Democrats
Republicans
Independents
Democrats
who voted
for Reagan
01 July
â–¡ August
â–  September/October
FIGURE 2/The Electorate and Its Partisan Classifications

96
Strength of Association Between Vote Choice and Perceptions of
Michael S. Dukakis as Too Liberal, July to September/October 1988
08
0.7
Men Women White Men White Women
â–¡ July â–¡ August â–  September/October
FIGURE 3/Gender and Race
Ridit Score Estimates of the Probability that a Bush Supporter, When
Compared to a Dukakis Supporter, Thought that Dukakis was Too
Liberal, July-September/October 1988
â–¡ July â–¡ August â–  September/October
FIGURE 4/Gender and Race

97
Strength of Association Between Vote Choice and Perceptions of
Michael S. Dukakis as Too Liberal, July to September/October 1988
0.8 j
0.7
0.6
0.5
Tau-b 0.4
0.3
0.2
0.1
0
Northeast South Mdwest West
â–¡ July
â–¡ August
â–  September/October
FIGURE 5/Region
Ridit Score Estimates of the Probability that a Bush Supporter, When
Compared to a Dukakis Supporter, Thought that Dukakis was Too
Liberal, July-September/October 1988
Northeast South IVSdw est West
El July â–¡ August â–  September/October
FIGURE 6/Region

98
Strength of Association Between Vote Choice and Perceptions of
Michael S. Dukakis as Too Liberal, July & September/October 1988
Tau-b
0 9 -r
0 8 -â– 
0.7 -•
0.6 --
0.5 -•
0 4 --
0 3 --
0.2 --
01 --
3
J
Democrats Working Middle Class Reagan Reagan Reagan
who voted Class Reagan Democrats < Democrats > Democrats
forReagan Reagan Democrats $30,000/yr $30,000/yr H.S.grads or
Democrats less
E3 July
â–¡ Sept/Oct
FIGURE 7/Classifications of Reagan Democrats
Ridit Score Estimates of the Probability that a Bush Supporter, When
Compared to a Dukakis Supporter, Thought that Dukakis was Too
Liberal, July & September/October 1988
forReagan Reagan Democrats $30,000/yr $30,000/yr H.S.grads or somecollege
Democrats less or more
â–¡ July
â–¡ Sept/Oct
FIGURE 8/Classifications of Reagan Democrats

99
Jesse Jackson for the nomination and the coverage accorded the Democratic National
Convention left George Bush's references to tax hikes, prison furloughs, the death penalty,
and the Pledge of Allegiance issues largely unreported and thus unheard by the electorate.
Following what many political observers believed to be a highly successful nomination
acceptance speech on July 21st, Dukakis surged to a 17 point lead over Bush in most
post-convention polls.
The electorate and its partisan classifications. In the aggregate, the Kendall's
tau-b statistic indicates that at the conclusion of the primary season and the outset of the
general election campaign there was a moderate degree of association (.529) between vote
choice and voters' perceptions of Dukakis as too liberal (table 3 and figure 1). However,
this statistic reflects the electorate as a whole which includes Republicans that would be
predisposed by the nature of their partisanship to be more inclined to regard Dukakis as
being too liberal. In addition, Independent voters exhibited a similarly moderate degree of
association ( .527) between their vote choice and perceptions of Dukakis as too liberal.
Among Republicans the association was somewhat weaker (.412). However, despite
Bush's initial attempts at defining Dukakis as a liberal by invoking the "negative cluster"
issues, the test indicates that in July there was a weak association between vote choice and
perceptions of Dukakis as too liberal among Democrats in the aggregate ( 183). A
plausible reason for the weak association among Democrats at this stage could be the
result of media attention being focused on the nomination contest between Dukakis and
his sole remaining primary opponent, Jesse Jackson. When Democrat voters compared
Dukakis to the Afro-American minister, the Massachusetts governor certainly must have
appeared more politically moderate, particularly in light of Dukakis' insistence during his
convention address that "this election is not about ideology, it's about competence"
(Maloney 1989, 136).

100
The ridit scores for this period reflect the tau-b statistical findings (table 3 and
figure 2). In the electorate as a whole the probability that a Bush supporter thought that
Dukakis was too liberal compared to a Dukakis supporter is .786. Like the tau-b statistic
this association decreases among Democrats (.627). However, it increases for the
subcategories of Republicans (.761), Independents (.790), and Democrats who voted for
Reagan ( 758).
Gender and race. Among men a moderate degree of association (.494) existed
between vote choice and perceptions of Dukakis as too liberal (table 3 and figure 3). The
association was stronger among women (.576). When controlling for race, the degree of
association between vote choice and perceptions of Dukakis as too liberal were slightly
higher among white men (.523) and white women (.596).
A similar relationship existed between the ridit score estimates (table 3 and
figure 4). Among men and women the probability that a Bush supporter, when compared
to a Dukakis supporter, thought that the Democratic nominee was too liberal was .773
and .804 respectively. When controlling for race the probabilities increased slightly to
.787 among white men and 814 among white women
Region. The strongest degree of association between vote choice and perceptions
of Dukakis as too liberal were recorded in the South and West, .653 and .660 respectively
(table 3 and figure 5). A moderately weak association existed for voters in the Northeast
(.356) while voters residing in the Midwest exhibited a moderate degree of association
(.461).
A similar pattern is reported for the ridit scores (table 3 and figure 6). The
probability that a Bush supporter, when compared to a Dukakis supporter, thought that
the Massachusetts governor was too liberal was highest in the South (.842) and West

(.857). The probability, though high, was less for voters in the Northeast (.695) and
Midwest (.751) when compared to those in the South and West.
Reagan Democrats. Among Democrats who voted for Reagan a moderate degree
of association ( .484) existed between vote choice and perceptions of Dukakis as too
liberal (table 4 and figures 1 & 7). Controlling for class, there was a greater degree of
association among self-described working class Democrats who voted for Reagan (.609)
than among self-described middle class Democrats who voted for Reagan (.326). When
income is considered, Reagan Democrats who made $30,000 a year or more were inclined
to exhibit a higher degree of association between vote choice and perceptions of Dukakis
as too liberal (.702) than Democrats who voted for Reagan who made less than $30,000 a
year (.228). Controlling for education, Reagan Democrats with a maximum of a high
school diploma were found to have a moderate degree of association (.521) between vote
choice and perceptions of Dukakis as too liberal. College educated Reagan Democrats
also exhibited a moderate, though somewhat less, degree of association (.464).
The probability that a Bush supporter thought the Democratic nominee was too
liberal compared to a Dukakis supporter among Reagan Democrats was .758 (table 4 and
figures 2 & 8). The probability was greater among working class Democrats who voted
for Reagan (.860), and Reagan Democrats with incomes greater than or equal to $30,000
a year (.879), yet the same among Reagan Democrats with at least some college education
(.758). The probability was less among middle class Democrats who voted for Reagan
(.682), Democrats who voted for Reagan with incomes less than $30,000 a year (.615),
and Reagan Democrats with high school education levels or less (.751).

102
August 1988
The political environment. Following his successful convention performance
Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis retired to his home state and essentially adopted a
self-imposed moratorium on national campaigning for the month opting instead to spend
the greater part of August in western Massachusetts. While busying himself in the affairs
of state, the Massachusetts governor allowed Bush and the Republicans to dominate the
national political dialogue. The Republican National Convention met in New Orleans
during the week of August 15th And like the Democrats the previous month, the media
accorded full attention to the party's activities. President Ronald Reagan delivered his
valedictory address on August 15th, the evening the convention opened, with a resounding
endorsement of Bush and then slipped quietly back to Washington to allow his vice
president to dominate the convention's proceedings. On the evening of the 18th Bush
delivered what would later be heralded as one of his most memorable speeches.
Accepting the Republican nomination, the vice president clearly delineated his differences
with Dukakis on a host of social and cultural value issues. Outlining his support for
capital punishment, prayer in schools, recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public
schools, mandatory sentences and his opposition to prison furloughs and tax increases
Bush contrasted his positions with those of Dukakis. Challenging Dukakis on the
ideological playing field, Bush submitted before the voters the argument that he, not
Dukakis, was the protector of the values held by a majority of Americans. The Republican
nominee painted a portrait of his opponent as a dangerous liberal who was out-of-touch
with mainstream America and as such a political risk the nation could not afford. Post¬
convention polls gave Bush the lead for the first time in the campaign.
The electorate and its partisan classifications. Statistical analysis indicates that
Bush's convention strategy was successful in influencing the electorate that Dukakis was a

103
liberal For the electorate as a whole the tau-b statistic increased . 122 to .651 indicating a
stronger association between vote choice and perceptions of Dukakis as being too liberal
(table 3 and figure 1). Increases were also apparent among each of the electorate's
partisan components. Among Republicans the increase was .169. Among Independents
the increase was .138. However, the greatest increase in strength of association was with
Democrats as a whole Among all Democrats the tau-b statistic increased to .448, a 265
increase from the previous month. With Dukakis touring western Massachusetts ignoring
Bush's ideological attacks and allowing the vice president to monopolize the attention of
the national media it is not surprising that the findings indicate an increase in the strength
of association between vote choice and perceptions of Dukakis as too liberal among the
electorate as a whole and each of its partisan components.
Similar to the results recorded for July, the ridit scores mirror the tau-b statistics
(table 3 and figure 2). In the aggregate the probability that a Bush supporter thought that
Dukakis was too liberal compared to a Dukakis supporter increased to .843 The
association among all Democrats also increased, but by a more significant margin (.178) to
805. Among Democrats who voted for Ronald Reagan the ridit score essentially
remained the same as the score recorded for the previous month indicating no significant
change in probability. Ridit scores increased for both Republicans and Independents to
.820 and .852 respectively.
Gender and race. Among men in the aggregate, the tau-b statistic increased .136
to .630. Among women the strength of association experienced a more moderate increase
(.086) resulting in a tau-b statistic of .662 (table 3 and figure 3). Controlling for race, the
strength of association between vote choice and perceptions of Dukakis as too liberal
increased by the same amount (.136) among white men to .659. Among white women the
increase over the July tau-b statistic was .066 which translated into a tau-b statistic of
.662.

104
Ridit scores also increased among all gender and race categories analyzed (table 3
and figure 4). Ridit scores among men and women increased .061 and .043 respectively to
834 and 847. Ridit scores also increased among white men (.062) and white women
(.032) to .849 and .846 respectively.
Region The greatest increase in the strength of association between vote choice
and perceptions of Dukakis as too liberal occurred among voters in the Northeast (table 3
and figure 5) Among this subgroup the tau-b statistic increased 254 to .610 changing
from a moderately weak to a moderately strong degree of association. The tau-b statistic
also increased among Midwestern voters ( 225) to .686. When compared to results
recorded for July, the strength of association between vote choice and perceptions of the
Democratic nominee as too liberal remained essentially unchanged in the South ( 658) and
West (.645).
Similar to the pattern observed for the tau-b statistic, the ridit scores increased
among voters in the Northeast (. 130) and Midwest (.106) to .825 and 857 respectively
(table 3 and figure 6). The probability that a Bush supporter, when compared to a
Dukakis supporter, thought the Governor of Massachusetts was too liberal remained
essentially unchanged among Southern (.848) and Western (.840) voters.
Reagan Democrats. The strength of association between vote choice and
perceptions of Dukakis as being too liberal among Democrats who supported Ronald
Reagan remained static (table 3 and figure 1). No significant increase or decrease was
found Similarly, the probability that a Bush supporter thought Dukakis was too liberal
compared to a Dukakis supporter remained relatively static only increasing .006 to .764
(table 3 and figure 2). Unfortunately, the August survey instrument did not include
demographic categories for economic, income, or education classifications. Therefore it

105
was not possible to calculate Kendall's tau-b and ridit score statistics for these controlling
factors.
September and October 1988
The political environment. Enjoying the momentum gained from the convention,
George Bush accelerated his offensive assault on his Democratic opponent. On Labor
Day, the traditional date for the fall campaign kick-off, Bush, campaigning in California,
railed Dukakis' record on crime shouting, "No more furloughs for people to rape, pillage,
and plunder in the United States" (Black & Oliphant 1989, 225). To underscore the issues
of patriotism and crime the Republicans staged media events with the vice president
visiting flag factories and accepting the endorsements of various law enforcement officials
and police unions.
In addition to staged events designed to generate free media exposure, the vice
president's paid media campaign began in earnest. On September 13th the Bush campaign
launched their television ad, "The Harbor," which questioned Dukakis' alleged competence
by highlighting his environmental record with respect to the clean-up of the Boston bay
area. The now famous "Revolving-door" spot criticizing the Massachusetts prison
furlough program and Dukakis' record on crime began broadcast on October 3rd. The
highly effective ad, featuring actors dressed as prisoners passing through a revolving
prison door, ran through the general election in targeted media markets in strategic
electoral states. Later, on October 19th, the Bush campaign introduced a spot designed to
question Dukakis' commitment to a strong national defense. The ad featured a helmeted
Dukakis riding in a tank while screen scrolling his support for a nuclear freeze and his
opposition to many of the weapons systems supported by the Reagan/Bush administration.
The Dukakis campaign, despondent after witnessing their candidate squander a 17
point lead, was in disarray. The candidate refused to listen to advice urging him to

106
respond to Bush's attacks and instead concentrated on outlining programmatic specifics on
policies he would implement as president. The Democratic nominee's paid media
campaign was in shambles lacking both direction and message. In desperation, John
Sasso, the Dukakis campaign manager deposed after exposing Senator Joe Biden as a
plagiarist, was recalled from exile. However, by the time Sasso rejoined the Dukakis
campaign a sufficient amount of irreparable damage had been done.
To have any chance of regaining the momentum Dukakis needed to outperform the
vice president in their two televised debates. In their first debate, held on September 25th
in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Dukakis was generally given the edge. Dukakis clearly
won on substance but Bush scored points on the Pledge of Allegiance issue and tied
Dukakis to the liberal mantra by invoking the Democratic candidate's association with the
ACLU. Dukakis' win was not regarded as a "knock-out" punch largely because among
the two Bush was able to project himself as the more "likeable" candidate.
In the second debate held on October 13th in Los Angeles, California, Bush was
the clear victor not so much because of what he said, but what his opponent did not say.
Dukakis' failure to respond with emotional feeling to a question concerning the death
penalty transcended any remarks Bush made for the remainder of the debate. An NBC
News Wall Street Journal post debate poll gave Bush a 17 point lead over Dukakis.
Following the second debate, political pols and pundits were no longer
handicapping who was going to win but speculating on the size of the Bush victory.
However, the closing weeks of the campaign witnessed an unexpected metamorphosis by
Dukakis. Finally responding to pleas to "get tough" with Bush the Democratic candidate
railed Bush's attacks as "trash" saying, "this isn't a campaign about furloughs and flag
factories; it's about America's future" (Maloney 1989, 151). Admitting that he was a
liberal, Dukakis returned to his party's traditional populist message emphasizing that he
and the Democrats were on the side of the middle-class while Bush and the Republicans
were out-of-touch with the economic hardships faced by everyday Americans. His efforts

began to show a dividend. By the last week in October national polls showed that
Dukakis had cut Bush's lead in half.
For his part. Bush continued to tar Dukakis with the "L-word" drawing parallels
between himself and Dukakis on those issues which had, for the most part, dominated the
campaign dialogue, prison furloughs, the death penalty, taxes, the ACLU, the Pledge of
Allegiance, and national defense. During the final weeks of the general election campaign
an independent expenditure committee, Americans for Bush, began to air the now
infamous Willie Horton ad attacking Dukakis' record on crime. Whether or not it was the
intent, the ad had the effect of heightening racial fears and prejudices among certain
subgroups of the electorate. With Democrats and Afro-Americans charging racism, the
Bush campaign moved quickly to distance themselves from the ad However, Horton
himself entered the campaign dialogue adding credibility to Republican charges that
criminals in Massachusetts support Dukakis. On October 19th, in an interview with a
Gannett News Service reporter writing for the USA Today, Horton, replying to a question
asking which of the presidential candidates he would vote for if he could responded,
"Obviously, I'm for Dukakis" (Black & Oliphant 1989, 225).
In spite of his momentum in the closing weeks of the campaign, Dukakis lost the
general election taking 46% of the national vote compared to 54% for Bush. The popular
vote translated into an electoral college wipe-out with Bush gamering 426 electors to
Dukakis' 112.1
The electorate and its partisan classifications. The precipitous decline in the
electoral fortunes of the Dukakis campaign reached its nadir in September and October.
Immobilized by Bush's attacks that painted him as a dangerous, radical liberal and unable
to resurrect his faltering campaign as a result of his mediocre debate performances the
1 When the electoral college convened in December Dukakis actually received 111 votes. One West
Virginia Democratic elector. Margaret Leach, cast her v ote for Lloyd Bentsen for President and Michael
S. Dukakis for Vice President.

108
association between vote choice and perceptions of Dukakis as too liberal increased to
.714 among the electorate as a whole (table 3 and figure 1). This increase is primarily the
result of a significant increase in the strength of association between vote choice and
perceptions of Dukakis as too liberal among Democrats. Between August and
September/October the strength of positive association between vote choice and
perceptions of Dukakis as too liberal among Democrats increased .167 to 615. Using the
July statistic as a benchmark, the increase in positive association over the four month
period was .432. Among Republicans and Independents the strength of association
declined from August to September/October.
The ridit scores again demonstrate that voters supporting George Bush were
growing more likely to think that Dukakis was too liberal when compared to the feelings
about the Massachusetts governor held by his supporters (table 3 and figure 2). In the
aggregate, the probability that a Bush supporter thought that Dukakis was too liberal as
compared to a Dukakis supporter increased slightly to .876. The September/October ridit
score reflects a 090 overall increase when compared to the July score. Similar ridit scores
were generated among the electoral subgroups analyzed. The probabilities among
Democrats and Reagan Democrats increased to .874. Among Republicans the probability
increased .042 to .862. However, among Independents the probability decreased 036 to
.816.
Gender and race. The strength of association between vote choice and perceptions
of Dukakis as too liberal increased to .660 among men and .768 among women (table 3
and figure 3). Compared to the July tau-b statistic the overall increase in the strength of
association amounted to .166 among men and .192 among women. Similar increases were
recorded among white men and white women. The tau-b statistic increased between July
and September/October . 143 among white men and .151 among white women Among
white men, the tau-b statistic increased to 666 and among white women to .747.

The probability that a Bush supporter, when compared to a Dukakis supporter,
thought Dukakis was too liberal increased slightly among the four analyzed categories
109
(table 3 and figure 4). Overall, the ridit scores increased between July and
September/October .079, .084, .068, and .074 among men, women, white men, and white
women respectively.
Region. With the exception of the Midwest, the September/October tau-b
statistic, when compared to the August result, increased among voters in the Northeast,
South, and West (table 3 and figure 5). Overall, between July and September/October
each analyzed region of the nation recorded an increase in the strength of association
between vote choice and perceptions of Dukakis as too liberal. The largest increases in
the tau-b statistic occurred among voters in the Northeast (.290) and Midwest (.212).
The overall increases in the South (.095) and West (.055) were not as significant.
Increases in the ridit score results mirrored the pattern reflected in the tau-b
statistics (table 3 and figure 6). With the exception of the Midwest, ridit scores for the
Northeast, South, and West showed an increase in September/October when compared to
the scores recorded for August. Overall, the greatest increase in the probability that a
Bush supporter, when compared to a Dukakis supporter, thought the Democratic
presidential candidate was too liberal occurred among voters in the Northeast (.150) and
the Midwest (.103). Comparing September/October and July ridit score results, increases
of a lesser degree were recorded among voters in the South (.048) and West (.021).
Reagan Democrats. Between July and September/October the strength of
association between vote choice and perceptions of Dukakis as too liberal increased
among all the various categories of Reagan Democrats analyzed with the exception of self-
described working class Reagan Democrats whose tau-b statistic remained relatively
unchanged at .576 (table 4 and figures 1 & 7). In all probability the increase in strength of

110
association among the various categories of Reagan Democrats accounts for most of the
increase associated with partisan Democrats as a whole Among the umbrella category,
Democrats who voted for Reagan, a .231 increase was measured between August and
September/October. For the September/October period the strongest degree of
association was found among middle class Reagan Democrats ( 844). This subcategory
also registered the greatest positive movement in strength of association. The tau-b
statistic indicates that among middle class Reagan Democrats the strength of association
between vote choice and perceptions of Dukakis as too liberal increased .518 between July
and September/October A large increase in the strength of association also occurred
among Reagan Democrats with incomes less than $30,000 a year (.403) and Reagan
Democrats with some college education or greater (.356). Democrats who voted for
Reagan with incomes equal to or over $30,000 a year also exhibited a strong degree of
association but the increase over the tau-b statistic recorded for July was only .083.
Similarly, the increase in strength of association between vote choice and perceptions of
Dukakis as too liberal among Reagan Democrats with a high school education or less was
a modest .119.
Mirroring the tau-b results, the ridit score probabilities increased for all
subcategories with the exception of those self-described working class Reagan Democrats
whose probability decreased .050 between July and September/October (table 4 and
figures 2 & 8). Among Democrats who voted for Reagan, the probability that a Bush
supporter thought Dukakis was too liberal compared to a supporter of the Massachusetts
governor increased to 874. This translated into an overall .116 increase between July and
September/October. As with the tau-b statistic, the largest increases in probability during
the July and September/October period were associated with middle class Reagan
Democrats and Democrats who voted for Reagan with incomes less than $30,000.
Among the former group the probability increased .248 to .930. Among the latter the
increase was .221 to .836. When education is controlled, increases of a lesser degree were

Ill
measured. For those Reagan Democrats with at least some college education the ridit
score probability increased 152 to .910. Among Reagan Democrats with a high school
education or less the increase was .094 to .845 A small increase in probability ( .021) was
measured for Reagan Democrats who earned $30,000 a year or more.
Discussion
The results of the current research indicate that the Bush campaign was highly
effective in defining Dukakis as a liberal. The longitudinal analysis of the ABC
News Washington Post surveys supplies evidence which supports the first hypothesis.
During the course of the general election campaign perceptions that Michael S. Dukakis
was too liberal increased among the electorate. During the four month period between
July and October the strength of association between vote choice and perceptions of
Dukakis as too liberal generally increased among the entire electorate, including all
partisan, gender, race, and regional categories analyzed (table 3 and figures 1, 3, 5, & 7).
The most significant increases occurred among the entire electorate (+.185), women
(+.193), voters living in the Midwest (+.212), Democrats who had voted for Ronald
Reagan (+.230), voters living in the Northeast (+.290), and Democrats (+.432). In fact,
among Bush's target audience of Reagan Democrats each of the subgroups analyzed, with
the exception of working class Reagan Democrats, demonstrated an increase in the
strength of association between vote choice and perceptions of Dukakis as too liberal.
The effectiveness of the Bush strategy is further supported by the overall increase
in the probability that a Bush supporter, when compared to a Dukakis supporter, thought
that Dukakis was too liberal. Like the tau-b statistics, the ridit scores generally increased
between July and October for each electoral category analyzed (table 3 and figures 2, 4, 6,
& 8). The most significant increases were reported among Democrats (+.247), voters

112
living in the Northeast (+.150), Reagan Democrats (+. 116), voters living in the Midwest
(+.103), and Republicans (+.101). Mirroring the increasing trend associated with the
tau-b statistics, among each subgroup of Reagan Democrats, with the exception of
working class Reagan Democrats, the probability that a Bush supporter, when compared
to a Dukakis supporter, thought the Democratic nominee was too liberal increased
between July and October
An analysis of the CBS News New York Times surveys conducted from May to
November 1988 provides further evidence to indicate that Bush was successful in creating
the perception among the electorate that Dukakis was a liberal. The longitudinal data
compiled from the CBS News New York Times surveys indicate a consistent and positive
trend in the growth of public perceptions that Michael Dukakis was a liberal (table 5 and
figures 9, 11, & 13). Comparing the data from the final poll conducted between
November 2-4 with the initial poll conducted May 9-12, each of the partisan, gender,
racial, and regional groups analyzed recorded a net gain in the percentage of surveyed
voters who thought Dukakis was a liberal.
Among those who thought the Massachusetts governor was a liberal. Bush
consistently received a plurality of their votes (table 6 and figures 10, 12, & 14). The only
exception was among self-described Democrats. However, the vice president's margin
among the analyzed subgroups reached its zenith in mid to late September and then
experienced a degree of erosion. The erosion in the vice president's margins recovered
slightly in early October but continued to decline during the weeks immediately preceding
the election. Only among two groups of voters who thought Dukakis was a liberal,
Republicans and voters living in the Midwest, did the vice president's margin increase.
Despite a general positive growth trend in voters perceiving Dukakis to be a liberal
the probable cause for the decline in the vice president's support among those who thought
Dukakis was a liberal can be traced to a "fourth quarter" change in the Dukakis campaign
strategy. For much of the general election campaign Bush and his "Dukakis is a liberal"

113
TABLE 5
Percentage of Voters Who Thought Michael S. Dukakis Was a Liberal,
May - November 1988
SURVEY
MAY
9-12
SEPT
8-11
SEPT
21-23
SEPT
25
OCT
1-3
OCT
5
NOV
2-4
Difference
Nov - May
ALL VOTERS
34%
39%
37%
49%
47%
50%
51%
+ 17%
DEMOCRATS
29%
26%
22%
36%
30%
35%
46%
+ 17%
REPUBLICANS
38%
5.3%
59%
55%
65%
69%
61%
+23%
INDEPENDENTS
28%
38%
35%
38%
46%
47%
54%
+26%
REAGAN
DEMOCRATS
20%
28%
19%
28%
45%
58%
49%
+29%
MEN
37%
45%
44%
51%
51%
58%
56%
+ 19%
WOMEN
22%
34%
32%
34%
44%
45%
50%
+28%
WHITE MEN
39%
48%
46%
50%
53%
58%
60%
+21%
W HITE W OMEN
22%
.37%
32%
35%
45%
46%
49%
+27%
NORTHEAST0
27%
42%
30%
34%
43%
47%
45%
+18%
SOUTH*
27%
38%
40%
40%
46%
51%
54%
+27%
MIDWEST0
23%
30%
39%
39%
41%
40%
63%
+40%
WEST0"
29%
40%
41%
42%
49%
51%
65%
+36%
Note: Data from CBS News/New York Times surveys were used to calculate percentages. Question
analyzed in each survey. "In politics do you think of Michael Dukakis as a liberal, a moderate, or a
conservative?"
a Northeastern states include Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts. Rhode Island. New York.
Connecticut, New Jersey. Pennsy lv ania. Delaware. Mary land. West Virginia. & District of Columbia.
^ Southern states include Virginia. North Carolina. South Carolina. Georgia. Florida. Kentucky . Texas,
Tennessee. Alabama. Mississippi. Arkansas. & Louisiana.
c Midwestern states include Ohio. Indiana. Michigan. Illinois. Wisconsin. Minnesota. Iowa, Missouri.
North Dakota. South Dakota. Nebraska. Kansas. & Oklahoma.
cl Western states include Montana. Wyoming. Colorado. New Mexico. Idaho. Utah. Arizona. Nevada.
Washington. Oregon. California. Alaska. & Hawaii.

114
TABLE 6
Presidential Candidate Choice Among Voters
Who Thought Michael S. Dukakis Was a Liberal,
May - November 1988
SURVEY
MAY
9-12
SEPT
8-11
SEPT
21-23
SEPT
25
OCT
1-3
OCT
5
NOV
2-4
Difference
Nov - May
ALL VOTERS
BUSH
DUKAKIS
BUSH MARGIN
50%
37%
(13%)
70%
24%
(46%)
73%
17%
(56%)
88%
10%
(78%)
70%
21%
(49%)
66%
23%
(43%)
60%
36%
(24%)
+n%
DEMOCRATS
BUSH
DUKAKIS
BUSH MARC,IX
22%
69%
(-47%)
19%
71%
(-52%)
20%
57%
(-37%)
28%
69%
(-41%)
28%
57%
(-29%)
28%
57%
(-29%)
16%
77%
(-61%)
-14%
REPUBLICANS
BUSH
DUKAKIS
BUSH MARGIN
72%
16%
(56%)
97%
0%
(97%)
95%
2%
(93%)
98%
1%
(97%)
94%
3%
(91%)
87%
6%
(81%)
95%
3%
(92%)
+36%
INDEPENDENTS
BUSH
DUKAKIS
BUSH MARGIN
61%
33%
(28%)
67%
25%
(42%)
74%
14%
(60%)
79%
15%
(64%)
64%
22%
(42%)
64%
26%
(38%)
58%
38%
(20%)
-8%
REAGAN DEMOCRATS
BUSH
DUKAKIS
BUSH MARGIN
56%
44%
(12%)
44%
44%
(0%)
60%
10%
(50%)
75%
17%
(58%)
60%
20%
(40%)
63%
16%
(47%)
46%
37%
(9%)
-3%
MEN
BUSH
DUKAKIS
BUSH MARGIN'
61%
31%
(30%)
73%
23%
(50%)
82%
14%
(68%)
90%
9%
(81%)
73%
18%
(55%)
68%
22%
(46%)
69%
29%
(40%)
+ 10%
WOMEN
BUSH
DUKAKIS
BUSH MARGIN
48%
45%
(3%)
66%
24%
(42%)
65%
21%
(44%)
69%
25%
(44%)
67%
24%
(43%)
65%
24%
(41%)
51%
41%
(10%)
+7%

115
TABLE 6 (continued)
SURVEY
MAY
9-12
SEPT
8-11
SEPT
21-23
SEPT
25
OCT
1-3
OCT
5
NOV
2-4
Difference
Nov - May
WHITE MEN
BUSH
DUKAKIS
BUSH MARGIN
64%
29%
(35%)
75%
22%
(53%)
86%
11%
(75%)
90%
9%
(81%)
78%
14%
(64%)
76%
14%
(62%)
74%
20%
(54%)
+ 19%
W HITE W OMEN
BUSH
DUKAKIS
BUSH MARGIN
49%
43%
(6%)
70%
21%
(49%)
68%
17%
(51%)
70%
23%
(47%)
70%
20%
(50%)
73%
20%
(53%)
60%
32%
(28%)
+22%
NORTHEAST®
BUSH
DUKAKIS
Bl'SH MARGIN
41%
50%
(-9%)
66%
30%
(36%)
76%
14%
(62%)
76%
19%
(57%)
61%
29%
(32%)
58%
32%
(26%)
57%
36%
(21%)
+30%
SOUTH*
BUSH
DUKAKIS
BUSH MARGIN
67%
28%
(39%)
80%
15%
(65%)
75%
17%
(58%)
80%
15%
(65%)
71%
23%
(48%)
71%
19%
(52%)
69%
24%
(45%)
+6%
MIDWEST*
BUSH
DUKAKIS
BUSH MARGIN
47%
47%
(0%)
63%
28%
(35%)
64%
27%
(37%)
70%
18%
(52%)
68%
20%
(48%)
65%
27%
(38%)
70%
23%
(47%)
+47%
WEST**
BUSH
DUKAKIS
BUSH MARGIN
59%
30%
(29%)
78%
17%
(61%)
73%
16%
(57%)
70%
25%
(45%)
67%
25%
(42%)
71%
22%
(49%)
58%
29%
(29%)
+0%
Note: Data from CBS News New York Times surveys were used to calculate percentages. Question
analyzed in each survey, "In politics do you think of Michael Dukakis as a liberal, a moderate, or a
conservative?"
a Northeastern states include Maine. New Hampshire. Vermont. Massachusetts. Rhode Island. New York.
Connecticut. New Jersey. Pennsy lvania. Delaware. Mary land. West Virginia. & District of Columbia.
b Southern states include Virginia. North Carolina. South Carolina. Georgia. Florida. Kentucky. Texas,
Tennessee, Alabama. Mississippi. Arkansas. & Louisiana.
c Midwestern states include Ohio. Indiana. Michigan. Illinois, Wisconsin. Minnesota. Iowa. Missouri.
North Dakota. South Dakota. Nebraska. Kansas. & Oklahoma.
ci Western states include Montana. Wyoming, Colorado. New Mexico. Idaho. Utah. Arizona. Nevada.
Washington. Oregon. California. Alaska. & Hawaii.

116
FIGURE 9/Percentage of Voters (By Partisan Classification) Who Thought
Michael S. Dukakis Was a Liberal, May - November 1988
FIGURE 10/Bush Margin Among Voters (By Partisan Classification) Who
Thought Michael S. Dukakis Was a Liberal, May - November 1988

117
FIGURE 11/Percentage of Voters (By Gender and Race) Who Thought
Michael S. Dukakis Was a Liberal, May - November 1988
FIGURE 12/Bush Margin Among Voters (By Gender and Race) Who Thought
Michael S. Dukakis Was a Liberal, May - November 1988

118
FIGURE 13/Percentage of Voters (By Region) Who Thought
Michael S. Dukakis Was a Liberal, May - November 1988
FIGURE 14/Bush Margin Among Voters (By Region) Who Thought
Michael S. Dukakis Was a Liberal, May - November 1988

119
message dominated the political dialogue. Without an effective response from Dukakis
the Bush message resonated uncontested with the electorate However, once Dukakis
admitted he was a liberal and began to respond to Bush's ideological attacks with an "on
your side" economic populist theme conventional wisdom suggests that the Democratic
nominee began to blunt some of the effectiveness of the vice president's value-based
strategy. Once Dukakis began to emphasize positive aspects associated with practical
liberalism his dramatic slide in the polls stalled and then began to recover. Polls conducted
late in the campaign showed the Democratic nominee cutting Bush's double-digit lead
suggesting an eleventh hour Dukakis surge. As demonstrated with the data furnished
from the CBS News New York Times surveys, between October 5 and November 2-4
Bush's margins among those who thought Dukakis was a liberal declined among all
analyzed categories w'ith the exception of Republicans (who were probably returning to
the party banner) and Midwesterners. The largest declines occurred among Reagan
Democrats (-38%), Independents (-18%), women (-31%), white women (-25%), and
voters residing in the West (-20%).
The longitudinal results provided by the CBS News New York Times surveys are
particularly interesting as they relate to Reagan Democrats and Carmines and Berkman's
argument regarding the connection between the partisan loyalty of conserv ative
Democrats and appeals to class-based economic populism. The fact that Bush's support
began to decline among Reagan Democrats who thought Dukakis was a liberal during the
period that Dukakis began to weave class-based economic themes into his campaign
rhetoric suggests that Reagan Democrats may have been positively influenced to return to
the party fold as a result of the Democratic nominee's new found economic populism.
Changes in the tau-b statistic and ridit scores could not be measured during the final weeks
of the campaign since the ABC News Washington Post November exit poll survey was not
consistent with its predecessors because it did not include a question exclusively
addressing voter perceptions of Michael Dukakis' ideology.

120
The results of the longitudinal analyses examining both across time changes in
voters' ideological perceptions of Michael Dukakis and the strength of association between
vote choice and perceptions of Dukakis as too liberal provide strong evidence that the
Bush campaign was generally successful in defining the Massachusetts governor as a
liberal. George Bush may have succeeded in isolating himself from potential liberal voters
by his attacks on liberalism. However, strategically this was a cost-effective policy for the
vice president. As Barbara Farah and Ethel Klein observe, "In launching an attack on
liberals, George Bush was picking on a relatively small group in the electorate (15-20%)
and an even smaller segment of his own political party (less than 10%)" (Pomper 1989,
110). In a political environment that was growing considerably more hostile to the types
of public policies associated with liberalism Bush stood more to gain than to lose.

ANALYSIS MEASURING THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE
"NEGATIVE CLUSTER" ISSUES ON VOTE CHOICE
The strategy of the Bush campaign was predicated on convincing voters that
Michael Dukakis was a liberal. To create the image that Dukakis was a liberal the
Republican nominee sought to define his opponent by applying a litmus test composed of a
host of value-based symbolic issues. Bush's strategy relied on using the "negative cluster"
issues, both in stump speeches and paid media, to stimulate affective negative
predispositions attached to the "liberal" label among specific segments of the electorate.
To assess whether or not the "negative cluster" issues were significant factors that
influenced vote choice, the probit technique was used to measure the significance level of
five of the "negative cluster" issues, abortion, the death penalty, the Pledge of Allegiance,
the ACLU, and prison furloughs. The same groups analyzed in the across time analyses
were analyzed in the probit analyses.1 Data from the exit poll conducted by ABC
News Washington Post were used in the analyses. In the analyses many of the variables in
the model achieve significance (+ 2.576 for p < .01 or + 1.960 for p < .05) as the data
set has an overall sample size of more than 34,000 observations.2 In drawing conclusions
from the results it is important to consider both the degree of potency of the t-values and
the strength of the coefficients as they relate to their counterparts in the various control
categories for each of the 20 independent variables in the model. The findings are outlined
in tables 7 through 10.
1 The only exception being Reagan Democrats controlling for class. The ABC News/Washington Post exit
poll did not contain working and middle class demographic classifications.
2 The ABC Sews Washington Post exit poll data set contains a total of 95,167 cases. This figure includes
long and short form v ersions of the exit poll surv ey . The data used to conduct this research is contained
in the long form version. A total of 34,361 cases were completed of the long form version of the survey.
121

122
Results
The electorate and its partisan subclassifications. The probit analyses indicate that
the value-based symbolic issues, the death penalty, the Pledge of Allegiance, and prison
furloughs, were all factors that were highly significant on influencing vote choice against
Dukakis among the electorate and its partisan subgroups of Democrats, Republicans, and
Independents (table 7). Of the seven variables with t-values greater than + 20 three were
values-based "negative cluster" issues. Of the five "negative cluster" issues in the model
the death penalty was consistently the most strongly significant. Among the total
electorate the death penalty achieved a potent t-value of over -37, greater than any other
variable considered in the model. Similarly, both the t-values for the Pledge of AJlegiance
and prison furlough issues consistently proved strongly significant on influencing vote
choice against Dukakis. While these issues were significant among Republicans, the
coefficients suggest that Democrat and Independent voters were more strongly influenced
by the death penalty, the Pledge, and the prison furlough issues.
Abortion was a significantly negative factor against Dukakis among all groups
analyzed except Republicans. This is somewhat surprising since Bush was a pro-life
candidate. One point of interest is the apparent benefit Dukakis received from his choice
of Texas senator Lloyd Bentsen to be his running mate. Among the analyzed variables
Bentsen posted the strongest positive t-values among the electorate as a whole,
Republicans, and Independents. Only among Democrats did party affiliation achieve a
higher level of positive significance on influencing vote choice in favor of Dukakis than did
the Massachusetts governor's selection of Bentsen. However, holding all variables
constant the coefficients indicate that Bentsen was the strongest positive reason for the
electorate, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents to select Dukakis.

123
TABLE 7
THE ELECTORATE AND ITS PARTISAN CLASSIFICATIONS,
ABC NEWS/WASHINGTON POST DATA SET
The Effects of Model Independent Variables on Vote Choice
INDEPENDENT
ALL
VARIABLES
VOTERS
DEMOCRATS
REPUBLICANS
INDEPENDENTS
-.1896
-.3215
.0224
-.1428
ABORTION
.0216
.0405
.0462
.0505
(-8.778)
(-7.938)
(0.485)
(-2.828)
THE
-.9271
-.9008
-.5501
-.7991
DEATH
.0250
.0478
.0537
.0579
PENALTY
(-37.084)
(-18.845)
(-10.244)
(-13.801)
THE PLEDGE
-.8680
-.9213
-.4752
-.8400
OF
.0362
.0685
.0743
.0847
ALLEGIANCE
(-23.978)
(-13.450)
(-6.396)
(-9.917)
.0303
.1269
-.1918
.1326
THE ACLU
.0382
.0810
.0861
.0822
(0.793)
(1.567)
(-2.228)
(1.613)
PRISON
-.9196
-1.0393
-.3941
-.8885
FURLOUGHS
.0382
.0714
.0746
.0853
(-24.073)
(-14.556)
(-5.283)
(-10.416)
Dukakis/Bush
.1506
.1867
.0733
-.0543
Debates
.0190
.0336
.0438
.0491
(7.926)
(5.557)
(1.674)
(-1.105)
Bentsen/Quavle
.3975
.4054
.3299
.4356
Debates
.0310
.0596
.0681
.0746
(12.823)
(6.802)
(4.844)
(5.839)
Party
-.0812
.8646
-.6173
-.0956
Affiliation
.0196
.0491
.0509
.0761
(-4.143)
(17.609)
(-12.127)
(-1.256)
Presidential
-.2550
-.3112
.0187
-.1710
Candidate
.0285
.0532
.0601
.0700
Personality
-8.947
(-5.850)
(.0311)
(-2.443)
College
.6508
.5714
.4282
.5906
Costs
.0325
.0630
.0730
.0737
(20.025)
(9.070)
(5.866)
(8.014)

124
TABLE 7 (continued)
INDEPENDENT
ALL
VARIABLES
VOTERS
DEMOCRATS
REPUBLICANS
INDEPENDENTS
.6429
.5581
.3605
.6648
Health Care
.0259
.0480
.0598
.0610
(24.822)
(11.627)
(6.028)
(10.898)
.3727
.4141
.1555
.4597
The Environment
.0278
.0559
.0631
.0611
(13.406)
(7 407)
(2.464)
(7.524)
-.0687
.0026
-.0212
-.0855
Drugs
.0245
.0460
.0557
.0567
(-2.804)
(0.057)
(-0.381)
(-1.508)
.2375
.2342
.1565
.2153
Education
.0262
.0502
.0593
.0600
(9.064)
(4.665)
(2.639)
(3.588)
The Iran Contra
.8608
.8521
.4493
.9515
Affair
.0352
.0737
.0783
.0785
(24.455)
(11.562)
(5.738)
(12.121)
.1059
.0846
-.0290
-.0375
Social Security
.0257
.0461
.0609
.0636
(4.121)
(1.835)
(-0.476)
(-0.589)
-.3937
-.1034
-.2449
-.4796
Capital Gains Tax
.0399
.0841
.0873
.0907
(-9.867)
(-1.229)
(-2.805)
(-5.288)
Foreign
-.2525
-.2740
-.0888
-.0793
Competition
.0313
.0607
.0688
.0685
(-8.067)
(-4.514)
(-1.291)
(-1.158)
.4468
.2854
.5295
.8464
Dan Quaylc
.0295
.0578
.0595
.0666
(15.146)
(4.938)
(8.899)
(12.709)
1.5240
1.1431
1.4885
1.2838
Lloyd Bentsen
.0433
.0755
.0942
.0952
(35.196)
(15.140)
(15.801)
(13.485)
N = 33,986*
N * 14,597*
N = 12466*
N = 5,850*
Auxiliary
Bush = 17428
Bush = 2491
Bush = 11431
Bush = 3474
Statistics13
Dukakis = 16,458
Dukakis = 12406
Dukakis = 1,035
Dukakis = 2,576
Log = -17,500.99
Log = 4,932.41
Log = 2.886.62
Log = -2,822.42
R2 = .51
R2 = .40
R2 = 42
R2 = .49
Note: The statistical results were produced using the probit technique. The dependent variable in the
model is vote choice: Michael S. Dukakis (1) or George Bush (2). Estimated probit coefficients and
standard errors precede t-values shown in parentheses.
a See appendix for discussion of the Aldnch-Nelson Pseudo R2 calculation.
* p < .01 for N > 1,000

125
TABLE 8
REAGAN DEMOCRATS,
ABC NEWS/WASHINGTON POST DATA SET
The Effects of Model Independent Variables on Vote Choice
INDEPENDENT
VARIABLES
ALL
DEMOCRATS
WHO VOTED
FOR REAGAN
LESS THAN
S30,000/YEAR
GREATER
THAN OR
EQUAL TO
S30,000/YEAR
HIGH
SCHOOL OR
LESS
EDUCATION
COLLEGE
EDUCATED
-.2420
-.4527
.0002
-.4971
-.0574
ABORTION
.0628
.0875
.0943
.1004
.0822
(-3.852)
(-5.173)
(0.002)
(-4.951)
(-0.698)
THE
-.8269
-.6857
-1.0469
-.8047
-.8291
DEATH
.0743
.1022
.1171
.1152
.0993
PENALTY
(-11.127)
(-6.704)
(-8.939)
(-6.981)
(-8.348)
THE PLEDGE
-.9689
-.9016
-1.1185
-1.0342
-.9526
OF
.1082
.1420
.1815
.1626
.1494
ALLEGIANCE
(-8.953)
(-6.345)
(-6.162)
(-6.360)
(-6.376)
-.4987
.0182
-1.0325
-.4087
-.5242
THE ACLU
.1508
.2167
.2475
.3062
.1789
(-3.308)
(0.084)
(-4.173)
(-1.335)
(-2.929)
PRISON
-.7982
-.9366
-.7953
-.6710
-.8889
FURLOUGHS
.1125
.1643
.1679
.1889
.1444
(-7.095)
(-5.700)
(-4.736)
(-3.551)
(-6.153)
Dukakis/Bush
.1666
.1980
.1299
.3548
.0095
Debates
.0550
.0732
.0870
.0820
.0759
(3.029)
(2.704)
(1 493)
(4.327)
(0.126)
Bentsen/Quayle
.5129
.3334
.7385
.5089
.5699
Debates
.0824
.1225
.1310
.1528
.1096
(9.390)
(2.721)
(5.639)
(3.330)
(5.199)
Party
.7732
.7230
.9127
.6966
.8474
Affiliation
.0824
.1219
.1160
.1247
.1112
(9.390)
(5.930)
(7.871)
(5.585)
(7.614)
Presidential
-.2944
-.2714
-.2372
-.2508
-.2877
Candidate
.0841
.1213
.1219
.1286
.1127
Personality
(-3.501)
(-2.237)
(-1.946)
(-1.949)
(-2.553)
College
.7325
.8064
.7121
.6627
.7888
Costs
.1029
.1521
.1515
.1819
.1283
(7.121)
(5.300)
(4.701)
(3.643)
(6.147)

126
TABLE 8 (continued)
INDEPENDENT
VARIABLES
ALL
DEMOCRATS
WHO VOTED
FOR REAGAN
LESS THAN
S30,000/YEAR
GREATER
THAN OR
EQUAL TO
S30,000/YEAR
HIGH
SCHOOL OR
LESS
EDUCATION
COLLEGE
EDUCATED
.5480
.5127
.6071
.5547
.5522
Health Care
.0776
.1037
.1219
.1172
.1065
(7.066)
(4.942)
(4.979)
(4.733)
(5.183)
The
.2596
.1570
.4189
.0325
.3883
Environment
.0869
.1222
.1289
.1475
.1101
(2.988)
(1.284)
(3.248)
(0.220)
(3.525)
. 1636
.2619
.0476
.2664
.1239
Drugs
.0723
.0987
.1126
.1109
.0975
(2.264)
(2.652)
(0.423)
(2.400)
(1.270)
.1861
.1147
.3095
.1204
.2284
Education
.0795
. 1095
.1216
.1348
.1004
(2.342)
(1.046)
(2.544)
(0.893)
(2.274)
The Iran
.6965
.3764
1.1757
.6262
.7135
Contra Affair
.1182
1568
.1904
.2097
.1462
(5.892)
(2.400)
(6.173)
(2.985)
(4.877)
.0913
-.0086
.1592
1318
.0543
Social Security
.0732
.0921
.1272
.1029
.1083
(1.247)
(-0.094)
(1.251)
(1.280)
(0.502)
Capital Gains
.0601
.2765
.0603
.3390
-.0730
Tax
.1253
.2055
.1687
.2210
.1556
(0.480)
(1.346)
(0.357)
(1.534)
(-0.469)
Foreign
-.3588
-.1839
-.6285
-.2061
-.4453
Competition
.0941
.1298
.1488
.1552
.1213
(-3.811)
(-1.417)
(-4.223)
(-1.328)
(-3.671)
.3858
.0310
.8045
.2182
.4739
Dan Quavle
.0845
.1159
.1301
.1379
.1092
(4.568)
(0.268)
(6.181)
(1.583)
(4.336)
1.5155
1.2512
1.9554
1.3796
1.6294
Lloyd Bentsen
.1244
.1562
.2213
.1872
.1702
(12.183)
(8.011)
(8.835)
(7.368)
(9.571)
N = 3,634*
N = 1,904*
N = 1,730*
N = 1,631*
N = 2,003*
Auxiliary
Bush = 1,682
Bush = 806
Bush = 876
Bush = 728
Bush = 954
Statistics0
Dukakis ~ 1,952
Dukakis = 1,098
Dukakis = 854
Dukakis = 903
Dukakis = 1,049
Log =-1,864.46
Log = 1,020.80
Log = -785.16
Log = 861.39
Log = 978.84
R2 = .51
R2 = .52
R2 = .48
R2 = .51
R2 = .49
Note: The statistical results were produced using the probit technique. The dependent variable in the
model is vote choice; Michael S. Dukakis (1) or George Bush (2). Estimated probit coefficients and
standard errors precede t-values shown in parentheses.
a See appendix for discussion of the Aldrich-Nelson Pseudo R2 calculation.
* p < .01 for N > 1.000

127
TABLE 9
GENDER AND RACE, ABC NEWS/WASHINGTON POST DATA SET
The Effects of Model Independent Variables on Vote Choice
INDEPENDENT
VARIABLES
MEN
WOMEN
WHITE
MEN
WHITE
WOMEN
BLACK
MEN
BLACK
WOMEN
ABORTION
-.2199
.0341
(-6.449)
-.1855
.0285
(-6.509)
-.1464
.0365
(-4.011)
-.0712
.0307
(-2.319)
-.7237
.1553
(-4.660)
-.3550
.1501
(-2.365)
THE
DEATH
PENALTY
-.9946
.0371
(-26.809)
-.8518
.0345
(-24.690)
-.9665
.0401
(-24.102)
-.8235
.0374
(-22.019)
-.7963
.1875
(-4.247)
-.7546
.1755
(-4.300)
THE PLEDGE
OF
ALLEGIANCE
-.6890
.0546
(-12.619)
-1.0142
.0493
(-20.572)
-.6562
.0582
(-11.275)
-1.0333
.0534
(-19.351)
-.9736
.2850
(-3.416)
-1.0051
.2801
(-3.588)
THE ACLU
-.0219
.0522
(-0.420)
.1602
.0582
(2.753)
.0219
.0551
(0.397)
.1550
.0614
(2.524)
-.4525
.2788
(-1.645)
-.0986
.3316
(-0.297)
PRISON
FURLOUGHS
-.9499
.0576
(-16.491)
-.9164
.0522
(-17.556)
-.9630
.0626
(-15.383)
-.9372
.0571
(-16.413)
-.6985
.2666
(-2.620)
-.5485
.2748
(-1.996)
Dukakis/Bush
Debates
.1715
.0284
(6.039)
.1250
.0260
(4.808)
.0982
.0317
(3.098)
.0325
.0294
(1.105)
.4029
.1193
(3.377)
.2226
.1097
(2.029)
Bentsen/Quayle
Debates
.4849
.0454
(10.681)
.3169
.0431
(7.353)
.5410
.0492
(10.996)
.3908
.0466
(8.386)
4591
.2316
(1.982)
.1463
.2157
(0.678)
Party
Affiliation
-.0541
.0284
(-1.905)
-.0979
.0275
(-3.560)
-.0567
.0310
(-1.829)
-.0887
.0301
(-2.947)
.1571
.1271
(1 236)
.1679
.1360
(1.235)
Presidential
Candidate
Personality
-.2985
.0431
(-6.926)
-.2291
.0385
(-5.951)
-.2662
.0463
(-5.749)
-.1750
.0416
(-4.207)
-.0531
.2192
(-0.242)
-.2751
.1942
(-1.417)
College
Costs
.6433
.0504
(12.764)
.6478
.0432
(14.995)
6048
.0551
(10.976)
.6240
.0467
(13.362)
.6908
2424
(2.850)
.1337
.1926
(0.694)

128
TABLE 9 (continued)
INDEPENDENT
VARIABLES
MEN
WOMEN
WHITE
MEN
WHITE
WOMEN
BLACK
MEN
BLACK
WOMEN
Health Care
.6438
.0403
(15.975)
.6250
.0345
(18.116)
.6497
.0437
(14.867)
.6397
.0370
(17.289)
.3902
.1801
(2.167)
.5782
.1876
(3.082)
The
Environment
.3681
.0413
(8.913)
.3824
.0383
(9.984)
4454
.0439
(10.146)
.4605
.0411
(11.204)
.1802
.2274
(0.792)
-.1168
.1967
(-0.594)
Drugs
-.0764
.0370
(-2.065)
-.0648
.0333
(-1.946)
-.1033
.0404
(-2.557)
-.0858
.0364
(-2.357)
.0733
.1705
(0.430)
.1984
.1724
(1151)
Education
.2153
.0410
(5.251)
.2389
.0347
(6.885)
.1645
.0449
(3.664)
.2269
.0377
(6.019)
.5172
.1984
(2.607)
.4132
.1897
(2.178)
The Iran
Contra Affair
.8676
.0509
(17.045)
.8470
.0496
(17.077)
.9218
.0540
(17.070)
.9049
.0523
(17.302)
.1010
.2315
(0.436)
.3061
.2961
(1.034)
Social Security
.1217
.0398
(3.058)
.0890
.0345
(2.580)
.1043
.0432
(2.414)
.0971
.0372
(2.610)
.3327
.1907
(1 745)
.0444
.1766
(0.251)
Capital Gains
Tax
-.4212
.0542
(-7.771)
-.3249
.0604
(-5.379)
-.3987
.0580
(-6.874)
-.3627
.0654
(-5.546)
-.2419
.3015
(-0.802)
.1647
.3324
(0.495)
Foreign
Competition
-.1764
.0441
(-4.000)
-.3174
.0452
(-7.022)
-.1378
.0471
(-2.927)
-.2700
.0482
(-5.602)
-.4126
.2209
(-1.868)
-.0998
.2689
(-0.371)
Dan Quayle
.4660
.0426
(10.939)
.4523
.0416
(10.873)
.5565
.0446
(12.475)
.5433
.0435
(12.490)
.3540
.2760
(1.283)
.0676
.2609
(0.259)
Lloyd Bentsen
1.4791
.0635
(23.293)
1.5670
.0607
(25.815)
1.4922
.0673
(22.172)
1.6297
.0638
(25.544)
.8815
.2733
(3.225)
.9407
.3168
(2.969)
Auxiliary
Statistics0
N =15,890*
Bush = 8,853
Dukakis = 7,037
Log = -8,058.83
R2 = .50
N = 17,452*
Bush = 8,377
Dukakis = 9,075
I/Og = -8,992.18
R2=.S1
N = 13,729*
Bush = 8,364
Dukakis = 5,365
Log = -6,637.72
R2 = .49
N= 14,825*
Bush = 8,041
Dukakis = 6,784
Log = -7,319.91
R2 = .50
N = 1,400*
Bush = 173
Dukakis = 1,227
Log = -426.94
R2 = .38
N = 1,889*
Bush =128
Dukakis = 1,761
Log = -412.21
R2 = .30
Note: The statistical results were produced using the probit technique. The dependent variable in the
model is v ote choice; Michael S. Dukakis (1) or George Bush (2). Estimated probit coefficients and
standard errors precede t-values shown in parentheses.
a See appendix for discussion of the Aldrich-Nelson Pseudo R2 calculation.
* p < .01 forN > 1.000

129
TABLE 10
REGION, ABC NEWS/WASHINGTON POST DATA SET
The Effects of Model Independent Variables on Vote Choice
INDEPENDENT
VARIABLES
NORTHEAST"
SOUTH*
MIDWEST*7
WEST**
-.0553
-.2606
-.3702
.0115
ABORTION
.0421
.0395
.0404
.0607
(-1.314)
(-6.597)
(-9.163)
(0.189)
THE
-.9448
-.9269
-.8407
-1.1004
DEATH
.0456
.0456
.0497
.0716
PENALTY
(-20.719)
(-20.327)
(-16.915)
(-15.369)
THE PLEDGE
-.7259
-.8832
-.9044
-.8702
OF
.0674
.0629
.0729
.1129
ALLEGIANCE
(-10.770)
(-14.041)
(-12.406)
(-7.708)
-.0085
.0416
.0514
.0502
THE ACLU
.0718
.0686
.0743
.1127
(-0.118)
(0.606)
(0.692)
(0.445)
PRISON
-1.0211
-.7931
-.9462
-.9168
FURLOUGHS
.0744
.0686
.0725
.1078
(-13.724)
(-11.561)
(-13.051)
(-8.505)
Dukakis/Bush
.0545
.2625
1264
.1121
Debates
.0365
.0338
.0357
.0545
(1.493)
(7.766)
(3.541)
(2.057)
Bentsen/Quavle
.5005
.3115
.3391
.4404
Debates
.0591
.0563
.0583
.0912
(8.469)
(5.532)
(5.816)
(4.829)
Party
-.1618
-.0200
-.0993
-.0503
Affiliation
.0393
.0344
.0368
.0543
(-4.117)
(-0.581)
(-2.698)
(-0.926)
Presidential
-.2536
-.3157
-.1998
-2679
Candidate
.0542
.0526
.0528
.0832
Personality
(-4.679)
(-6.002)
(-3.784)
(-3.220)
College
.5875
.6632
.6893
.6432
Costs
.0600
.0587
.0630
.0995
(9.792)
(11.298)
(10.941)
(6.464)
.6926
.5934
.5857
.7130
Health Care
.0488
.0473
.0486
.0781
(14.193)
(12.545)
(12.051)
(9.129)
.2553
.3346
.3436
.6747
The Environment
.0510
.0527
.0534
.0794
(5.006)
(6.349)
(6.434)
(8.497)
-.0269
-.1291
-.0439
-.0306
Drugs
.0455
.0448
.0471
.0729
(-0.591)
(-2.882)
(-0.932)
(-0.420)

130
TABLE 10 (continued)
INDEPENDENT
VARIABLES
NORTHEAST"
SOUTH*
MIDWEST6'
WESTJ
.3299
.1913
.2392
.1557
Education
.0507
.0468
.0504
.0762
(6.507)
(4.088)
(4.746)
(2.043)
The Iran
.8666
.8208
.8580
.9711
Contra Affair
.0676
.0632
.0677
.1046
(12.820)
(12.987)
(12.674)
(9.284)
.1361
.0862
.1136
.2080
Social Security
.0487
.0453
.0490
.0810
(2.795)
(1.903)
(2.318)
(2.568)
-.4494
-.3619
-.3844
-.3630
Capital Gains Tax
.0731
.0710
.0778
.1229
(-6.148)
(-5.097)
(-4.941)
(-2.954)
Foreign
-.3181
-.2491
-.1575
-.3059
Competition
.0597
.0570
.0587
.0917
(-5.328)
(-4.370)
(-2.683)
(-3.336)
.6489
.3168
.3117
.6325
Dan Quayle
.0577
.0531
.0554
.0883
(11.246)
(5.966)
(5.626)
(7.163)
1.4753
1.7008
1.5350
1.1928
Lloyd Bentsen
.0893
.0757
.0823
.1135
(16.521)
(22.468)
(18.651)
(10.509)
N = 9,203*
N = 11386*
N = 9,177*
N = 4,320*
Auxiliary
Bush = 4396
Bush = 6,569
Bush = 4,537
Bush = 2,026
Statistics^
Dukakis = 4,807
Dukakis = 4,717
Dukakis = 4,640
Dukakis = 2,294
Log = -4,669.61
Log = -5,690.29
Log =4,819.36
Log = -2,136.06
R2 = .50
R2 = .50
R2 = .51
X
II
£
Nate: The statistical results were produced using the probit technique. The dependent variable in the
model is vote choice: Michael S. Dukakis (1) or George Bush (2). Estimated probit coefficients and
standard errors precede t-values shown in parentheses.
a Northeastern states include Maine. New Hampshire. Vermont. Massachusetts. Rhode Island. New York.
Connecticut. New Jersey. Pennsy lvania. Delaware. Mary land West Virginia. & District of Columbia.
* Southern states include Virginia. North Carolina. South Carolina. Georgia. Florida. Kentucky . Texas.
Tennessee, Alabama. Mississippi, Arkansas. & Louisiana.
c Midwestern states include Ohio. Indiana. Michigan. Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota. Iowa. Missouri.
North Dakota. South Dakota. Nebraska. Kansas, & Oklahoma.
^ Western states include Montana. Wyoming. Colorado. New Mexico. Idaho. Utah. Arizona. Nevada.
Washington. Oregon, California. Alaska. & Hawaii.
e See appendix for discussion of the Aldrich-Nelson Pseudo R2 calculation.
* p < .01 forN > 1.000

131
Among the electorate as a whole it is estimated that the model explains
approximately 51% of the variance in the dependent variable. Furthermore, the R2 figure
estimates that 40%, 32%, and 49% of the variance is explained among Democrats,
Republicans, and Independents respectively.
Reagan Democrats The results among Democrats who voted for Reagan (table 8)
mirror the results for the electorate-at-large and its partisan subgroupings. Among all
analyzed groups of Reagan Democrats the death penalty, the Pledge of Allegiance, and
prison furloughs achieved significance as influencing vote choice against Dukakis. Again,
as in the analysis of the electorate and its partisan subgroups, the death penalty was
consistently the most significant issue against the selection of Dukakis among Reagan
Democrats. Comparing coefficients it appears that among Reagan Democrats in general
and the specific subgroups analyzed the Pledge issue had the strongest impact. The crime
issues, the death penalty and prison furloughs, had an equally strong impact on vote choice
against Dukakis among Reagan Democrats in general. However, the prison furlough issue
more strongly affected Reagan Democrats who made less than $30,000 a year (-.9366)
and those with greater than a high school education (-.8889). The death penalty was a
stronger issue for Reagan Democrats who made $30,000 a year or more (-1.0469) and
those with a high school education or less (-.8047).
Abortion and the ACLU achieved significance among all Reagan Democrats.
However, when income and education are controlled abortion was significant among
lower income and less educated Reagan Democrats. Conversely, the ACLU issue was
significant against the selection of Dukakis among wealthier and college educated Reagan
Democrats. Among Reagan Democrats the selection of Bentsen was a strongly significant
factor influencing the selection of Dukakis. In the model the coefficients indicate that the
selection of Bentsen was a stronger positive factor influencing the selection of Dukakis
than party affiliation among all categories of Reagan Democrats.

132
The R2 figure estimates that the model explains approximately 51% of the variance
in the dependent variable among Reagan Democrats in the aggregate and Reagan
Democrats with a high school education or less. In addition, it is estimated that the model
explains 52% of the variance among Reagan Democrats who made less than $30,000 a
year, 48% of the variance among those with incomes equal to or greater than $30,000 a
year, and 49% of the variance among college educated Reagan Democrats.
Gender and race. The t-values indicate that among all analyzed categories the
death penalty and the Pledge of Allegiance were significant influences against voters
selecting Dukakis (table 9). The coefficients indicate that the death penalty was a stronger
issue among men (-.9946) than women (-.8518). However, the Pledge issue was more
salient for women (-1.0142) than men (-.6890). Similarly, the death penalty was stronger
among white men than white women while the effect of the Pledge issue was exactly the
opposite Among black men and black women the death penalty was a less strong of an
influence Yet, unlike white men, the strength of the Pledge issue among black men more
closely mirrored the effect exhibited on white women. When compared to white women,
the Pledge issue affected black women in a fairly similar fashion.
When considering gender and race the prison furlough issue was potentially the
most volatile among the "negative cluster." The volatility of the issue rests in its
connection to Willie Horton, a black man released under the Massachusetts furlough
program, who escaped and raped a white woman after stabbing her husband repeatedly.
Commenting on the use of the furlough issue by the Bush campaign and Willie Horton,
specifically, by independent expenditure committees on behalf of Bush, Susan Estrich,
Dukakis' campaign manager, believed that the furlough issue discussed in the context of
Willie Horton was a direct attempt to heighten racial fears and prejudices:

133
I happen to have been a rape victim. . . . My sense ... is that it was very
much an issue about race and racial fear. Whether it was intended
or not, the symbolism was very powerful. It was, at least on my
viewing it, very strong—look, you can't find a stronger metaphor
for racial hatred in this country than a black man rapmg a white woman.
And that's what the Willie Horton story was. (Runkel 1Q89, 113-114)
Estrich further argued that the issue affected whites, both men and women, in a
fairly equal fashion:
I talked to people afterward, men and women. Women said they
couldn't help it, but it [Willie Horton and the furlough issue] scared
the living daylights out of them. ... I talked to men who said they
couldn't help it either, but when they saw the leaflets later and the
ads and the like, they couldn't help but thinking about their wives
and feelmg scared and crazy. (Runkel 1989, 114)
The results of the probit tests indicate that Estrich was correct in her assumptions.
Among men and women without any racial subdivision, the furlough issue achieved
significance. The coefficients indicate that the strength of the issue was fairly uniform
among men (-.9499) and women (- .9164). With the exception of black women, the
t-values indicate that the prison furlough issue also achieved saliency status among the
gender groups controlling for race. However, comparing coefficients it is clear that the
issue had a stronger effect on white men (-.9630) and white women (-.9372) than black
men (-.6985) and black women (-.5485). While the surveys used in this research do not
provide an adequate measure to analyze the effects of race on vote choice in 1988, under
the circumstances, it must be acknowledged that whether or not it was the intent of the
Bush campaign, or independent expenditure committees working on behalf of the vice
president, to heighten racial fears and prejudices, they appear to have been factors
influencing vote choice.3
3 Surveys, particularly exit polls, often do not adequately measure the influence of race on electoral
outcomes. Focus groups are a more appropriate technique to adequately assess the extent of race as an
influence on individual-level political decision-making. Instances where race appears to have been an
influence on electoral outcomes but was not adequately measured in the polling data include the 1989
gubernatorial race in Virginia between black Democrat L. Douglas Wilder and Republican Marshall
Coleman and the 1982 gubernatorial campaign in California between black Democrat Tom Bradley and
Republican George Deukmejian.

134
Abortion was an issue that also worked to Dukakis' disadvantage among some
groups. Abortion achieved voting issue significance among all categories except white
and black women. Comparing coefficients the issue was strongest among black men
(-.7237). Party affiliation was a voting issue against Dukakis among women in general
and white women Dukakis' personality was also a liability among men and women in
general, and white men and white women specifically. The ACLU achieved significance
as a voting issue favoring the selection of Dukakis among women in general (2.753) and
was border-line significant among white women (2.524).
Lloyd Bentsen was the strongest reason to vote for Dukakis. The Democratic vice
presidential candidate posted the highest positive t-values and coefficients among men and
women in general and their specific racial subdivisions The model explained
approximately 50% of the variance in the dependent variable among men and white
women. Among women and white men the model explained approximately 51% and 49%
of the variance respectively. The model had less explanatory power among blacks.
Among black men it explained only 38% of the variance and among black women 30%.
Region On the eve of the general election campaign one senior Bush strategist
suggested that the Pledge issue alone would be worth 150 electoral votes, mainly in the
South (Goldman & Mathews 1989, 356). The strategist's assessment was correct. In fact,
the only region of the country in which the Democratic candidate did not win a single
electoral vote was in the South (table 20). The probit test indicates that among the four
regional categories the Pledge of Allegiance issue achieved the strongest t-value potency
(-14.041) in the South (table 10). The Pledge issue was also significant in the other three
regions. Comparing the coefficients, the Pledge issue was a stronger negative against
voters choosing Dukakis in the South (-.8832), Midwest (-.9044), and West (-.8702) than
the Northeast (-.7259).

135
The death penalty and the prison furlough issues also achieved significance as
voting issues against Dukakis in all four regions. The coefficients indicate that the death
penalty was a stronger issue in the West (-1.1004), Northeast (-.9448), and South
(-.9269) than in the Midwest (-.8407). The prison furlough issue was strongest in the
Northeast (-1.0211), followed by the Midwest (-.9462), West (-.9168), and South
(-.7931) respectively. Abortion was a significant factor against voters selecting Dukakis in
the South and Midwest. The issue did not achieve statistical significance in the Northeast
or West. Likewise, the ACLU issue did not attain significance in any of the four regions.
The results indicate that the strongest issue in Dukakis' favor was again his
Democratic running mate. The most potent positive t-values and the highest positive
coefficients recorded in each region for Dukakis were with regard to Bentsen. The R-
figure indicates that the model explains approximately 50% of the variance in the
dependent variable for the Northeast, South, and West and 51% of the variance for the
Midwest.
Discussion
The analysis measuring the significance of the "negative cluster" issues on vote
choice provides evidence to support the second primary hypothesis: the symbolic
"negative cluster" value issues used by the Bush campaign to frame Michael Dukakis as a
liberal were significant factors influencing vote choice against the Democratic nominee.
However, it is important to observe that those "negative cluster" issues emphasized by the
Bush campaign were more consistent in their effects than similar issues which were
employed less frequently. The three "negative cluster" issues primarily used by Bush
during the general election campaign, the death penalty, prison furloughs, and the Pledge
of Allegiance, were consistently found to influence vote choice against Dukakis among the
electoral categories examined in the analysis. The only exception was the prison furlough

136
issue which was found not to be a significant factor influencing vote choice among black
women.
Two other "negative cluster" issues which received less attention during the
campaign, the ACLU and abortion, were less consistent in their significance as influences
on vote choice. Surprisingly, abortion was not a significant factor among traditionally
pro-life Republicans despite Dukakis' pro-choice stand on the issue. Among Reagan
Democrats, the significance of abortion as a salient vote choice issue varied with education
and income. Abortion was a significant issue among less educated and lower income
Reagan Democrats. The result is probably attributable to the populist tendencies of the
traditional working class who believe government should engage in some degree of
regulation of social and moral issues (Maddox & Lilie 1984). Among the gender and
racial categories analyzed abortion was a stronger issue against the selection of Dukakis
among white and black men than white and black women. This is not an unexpected
result as women tend to be more pro-choice in their attitudes toward abortion than men.
Regionally, abortion was a significant issue against Dukakis in the South and Midwest.
The fact that abortion worked against Dukakis in the South is not surprising since Dixie is
the most conservative region in the nation. Similarly, compared to the Northeast and
West, particularly the Pacific west coast, the Midwest is a more conservative region. In
addition, several Midwestern states, notably Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio, are home to
large segments of working class populations who reside in older cities developed around
traditional "rust-belt" industries.
The ACLU was an issue not employed in a consistent fashion during the campaign
being overshadowed by the death penalty, prison furloughs, and Pledge issues. The most
significant media use of the issue by Bush came during the first presidential debate when
the vice president referred to Governor Dukakis as a "card-carrying member" of the
organization. The significance of the issue appeared to vary with education and income
levels. As control variables, education and income were only used among Reagan

137
Democrats. However, the significance of the ACLU among the higher educated and
greater income categories of Reagan Democrats suggests that the issue was more salient
among voters with a higher socioeconomic status who would be more intellectually
predisposed to understand the organization's mission. The ACLU was a significant factor
influencing women in general to support Dukakis. This is not surprising as the
organization is closely associated with promoting the rights of minorities. What is
surprising is that the issue was not a significant positive influence to choose Dukakis
among black men and women. If the saliency of the issue is related to education levels, as
suggested by the results of the analysis of Reagan Democrats, then the fact that blacks,
when compared to whites, tend to be less educated may have influenced the results.
Regionally, the ACLU was not a significant factor influencing vote choice.

THE EFFECTS OF OTHER VARIABLES ON VOTE CHOICE:
DID EXPERIENCE, TFIE ECONOMY, TAXES,
AND NATIONAL DEFENSE MATTER9
Other factors besides the symbolic "negative cluster" value issues may have
influenced vote choice. Two issues in particular, the economy and experience, deserve
attention as both scholars and political experts claim each impacted the 1988 general
election results.
To test the significance of the economy and experience as factors influencing vote
choice in favor of George Bush, a model was created and tested using data from the CBS
News, New York Times exit poll survey. The survey not only permits a test of the effects of
the economy and experience on vote choice, but includes responses to taxes and national
defense, two "negative cluster" variables absent from the ABC News/ Washington Post
survey instrument analyzed in the previous section. The model also provides additional
statistical evidence concerning the effect on vote choice of three other "negative cluster"
issues. In the current model the death penalty and prison furlough issues are reflected in
the crime variable and the Pledge of Allegiance issue is represented by the patriotic values
variable.
The same groups analyzed in the longitudinal analyses and the analysis measuring
the effects of the "negative cluster" issues on vote choice were analyzed in the current
model using the CBS News/New York Times exit survey instrument and data set.1 The
probit technique was again employed to test variable significance. In the analyses many of
1 The only exceptions are among Reagan Democrats controlling for income and class. Because the CBS
News/New York Times and the ABC News Washington Post exit surveys did not have a uniform income
code the break for the model using the CBS News/New York Times data set was $25,000 a year rather than
the $30,000 a year used in the model created with .ISC News/ Washington Post data. In regard to class
status, the CBS News/New York Times exit poll, like the ABC News/Washington Post exit poll, did not
contain working and middle class demographic classifications.
138

139
the model variables achieve significance ( + 2.576 for p < .01 or + 1.960 for p < .05) as
the CBS News New York Times exit survey data set has an overall sample size of more
than 11,600 observations. As previously mentioned, in drawing conclusions from the
results it is important to consider both the degree of potency of the t-values and the
strength of the coefficients as they relate to their counterparts in the various control
categories for each of the 18 independent variables in the model. The findings are outlined
in tables 11 through 14.
Results
The electorate and its partisan classifications. Among all voters and each partisan
subgrouping, experience was the most potent influence against voters choosing Michael
Dukakis (table 11). The t-values and the coefficients for the experience variable were the
strongest among the anti-Dukakis variables in the model. Comparing coefficients,
experience was a more influencing factor among Democrats (-1.297) and Independents
(-1.288) than Republicans (-.8320). The economy did not achieve statistical significance
among the electorate as a whole or its partisan subcategories.
Taxes and national defense, two "negative cluster" issues not among the variables
included in the model using ABC News Washington Post data, achieved mixed results.
Taxes achieved significance as a salient issue influencing vote choice against Dukakis
among the general electorate. However, examining the partisan breakdown taxes
achieved significance among Republicans (-3.959) and Independents (-7.136) and not
among Democrats (-1.657). Comparing coefficients, taxes were a stronger influence
among Independents (-.6936) than among Republicans (- 4228) and Democrats (-1347).
National defense was statistically significant among all voters (-4.130) and Democrats
(-2.909). According to the results, national defense was not a significant influence on vote
choice among Republicans and Independents.

140
Crime and patriotic values, variables representative of "negative cluster" issues,
achieved significance as voting issues against Dukakis among the electorate in general and
its partisan classifications. Comparing coefficients, both issues were stronger influences
among Democrats and Independents than Republicans. Abortion, while significant among
the general electorate, only achieved voting issue status among Democrats (-2.831).
Dukakis' liberal views proved to be a significant factor influencing voters in favor
of the Democratic nominee. The variable achieved positive significance among the general
electorate (7 085) and Democrats (5.637). While it is not surprising that Dukakis'
liberalism may have been viewed positively among Democrats in the aggregate, it is
somewhat surprising that the variable did not test as a significant influence against
Dukakis among Republicans, and to a lesser degree Independents. Survey methodology
may be responsible for this unexpected result. CBS News New York Times exit poll
respondents, when answering the questions used in this research, could only select a
maximum of two responses from those provided, forcing individuals to engage in
systematic prioritizing. Voters opposing Dukakis on the basis of his perceived liberalism
may have been more inclined to select response choices that represented the specific
"negative cluster" issues or issue categories Bush used against Dukakis. Therefore, when
confronted with an imposed limit on response choices, someone concerned about Dukakis'
perceived liberal positions on prison furloughs or the death penalty, two issues emphasized
by Bush during the general election campaign, may have been more likely to select the
crime response than the Dukakis' liberal views response.
Question format may also have had an effect on responses. A CBS News New
York Times poll conducted October 8-10 asked voters "regardless of how you intend to
vote, what worries you most about electing Michael Dukakis as President in 1988?" The
single phrased open-ended responses were coded into 51 possible categories. A probit
analysis conducted using data from the poll found that none of the "negative cluster"
issues listed among the possible coded responses achieved statistical significance

141
TABLE 11
THE ELECTORATE AND ITS PARTISAN CLASSIFICATIONS,
CBS NEWS/NEW YORK TIMES DATA SET
The Effects of Model Independent Variables on Vote Choice
INDEPENDENT
VARIABLES
ALL
VOTERS
DEMOCRATS
REPUBLICANS
INDEPENDENTS
-.5678
-.5798
-.2213
-.7056
CRIME
.0369
.0708
.0850
.0782
(-15.399)
(-8.189)
(-2.604)
(-9.023)
-.3934
-.1347
-.4228
-.6936
TAXES
.0410
.0813
.1068
.0972
(-9.588)
(-1.657)
(-3.959)
(-7.136)
-.3172
-.3128
-.1594
-.2911
ABORTION
.0579
.1105
.1330
.1206
(-5.483)
(-2.831)
(-1.198)
(-2.414)
DUKAKIS'
.2361
.3732
.1562
.1047
LIBERAL
.0333
.0662
.0831
.0682
VIEWS
(7.085)
(5.637)
(1.880)
(1.535)
PATRIOTIC
-.6956
-.6455
-.5049
-.5360
VALUES
.0560
.1119
.1320
.1034
(-12.418)
(-5.769)
(-3.825)
(-5.184)
-.2298
-.3290
-.3559
-.0475
DEFENSE
.0556
.1131
.1541
.1047
(-4.130)
(-2.909)
(-2.310)
(-0.454)
Helping the
.6122
.3144
.5523
.5045
Middle Class
.0336
.0639
0842
.0699
(18 229)
(4.920)
(6.559)
(7.217)
The
.4490
.3203
.4892
.5299
Environment
.0480
.0999
.1151
.0890
(9.352)
(3.206)
(4.250)
(5.954)
THE
-.0286
.1167
-.0800
-.0997
ECONOMY
.0337
.0699
.0841
.0703
(-0.850)
(1.670)
(-0.950)
(-1.418)
.2854
.1367
.2920
.3746
Budget Deficit
.0443
.0888
.1074
.0849
(6.446)
(1.539)
(2.719)
(4.412)

142
TABLE 11 (continued)
INDEPENDENT
ALL
DEMOCRATS
REPUBLICANS
INDEPENDENTS
VARIABLES
VOTERS
Relations with
-.7441
- 8425
-.3197
-.5935
the
.0723
1416
1577
.1384
Soviet Union
(-10.296)
(-5.950)
(-2.027)
(-4.288)
Vice
.6686
4458
.6710
.9149
Presidential
.0402
.0792
.0956
.0814
Candidates
(16.209)
(5.629)
(7.019)
(11.240)
Parts
.1699
.9319
-.7125
.1545
Affiliation
.0402
.1007
.1269
.1214
(4.226)
(9.254)
(-5.615)
(1.273)
Helping the
1.107
.8517
.9223
1.073
Poor
.0470
.0865
.1135
1000
(23.545)
(9.846)
(8.126)
(10.7.30)
-.0582
.0003
.0746
.2400
Likeabilitv
.0479
.0972
.1088
.0982
(-1.216)
(0.003)
(0.686)
(2 444)
.7552
.8072
4364
.3315
Jesse Jackson
.0649
.1340
1663
.1395
(11.643)
(6.024)
(2.624)
(2.376)
.0454
.3623
-.0112
.0860
The Debates
.0531
.1154
.1290
.0973
(0.856)
(3.139)
(-0.087)
(0.884)
-1.294
-1.297
-.8320
-1.288
EXPERIENCE
.0433
.0839
.1005
.0832
(-29.886)
(-15.461)
(-8.279)
(-15.481)
N = 11,466*
N = 4.438*
N - 3,523*
N = 2,812*
Auxilian
Bush = 5,695
Bush = 665
Bush = 3,196
Bush = 1.504
Statistics^
Dukakis = 5,771
Dukakis = 3,773
Dukakis = 327
Dukakis = 1,308
log = -5,405.12
Log = -1,313.84
Log = -827.29
Log = -1,272.17
R2 = .49
R2 = .37
R2 = .32
R2 = .48
Note: The statistical results were produced using the probit technique. The dependent variable in the
model is s ote choice; Michael S. Dukakis (1) or George Bush (2). Estimated probit coefficients and
standard errors precede t-values shown in parentheses.
a See appendix for discussion of the Aldrich-Nelson Pseudo R2 calculation.
* p < .01 forN > 1.000

143
TABLE 12
REAGAN DEMOCRATS,
CBS NEWS/NEW YORK TIMES DATA SET
The Effects of Model Independent Variables on Vote Choice
INDEPENDENT
VARIABLES
ALL
DEMOCRATS
WHO VOTED
FOR REAGAN
LESS THAN
S25,000/YEAR
GREATER
THAN OR
EQUAL TO
S25,000/YEAR
HIGH
SCHOOL OR
LESS
EDUCATION
COLLEGE
EDUCATED
-.6119
-.5544
-.6713
-.7291
-.5008
CRIME
.1186
.1812
.1645
.1603
.1839
(-5.159)
(-3.060)
(-4.081)
(-4.548)
(-2.723)
.0598
.0261
.0777
.1306
-.0234
TAXES
.1342
.2031
.1865
.1880
.2018
(0.446)
(0.129)
(0.417)
(0.695)
(-0.116)
-.1927
-.3119
-.1535
-.4566
-.0277
ABORTION
.2109
.3413
.2758
.3384
.2837
(-0.914)
(-0.914)
(-0.557)
(-1.349)
(-0.098)
DUKAKIS’
.3384
.7561
.0677
.5725
.0928
LIBERAL
.1097
.1729
.1486
.1624
.1581
VIEWS
(3.085)
(4.372)
(0.455)
(3.525)
(0.587)
PATRIOTIC
-.6945
-.7023
-.7430
-.8568
-.5594
VALUES
.1787
.2915
.2375
.2430
.2788
(-3.887)
(-2.409)
(-3.129)
(-3.526)
(-2.006)
-.4726
-.3066
-.5769
-.3766
-.4320
DEFENSE
.2086
.3552
.2683
.2986
.3063
(-2.266)
(-0.863)
(-2.150)
(-1.261)
(-1.410)
Helping the
.5725
.7063
.4487
4998
.6116
Middle Class
. 1066
. 1666
.1437
.1514
.1571
(5.371)
(4.240)
(3.122)
(3.301)
(3.893)
The
.3167
.2572
.3299
.1093
.4858
Environment
.1742
.2892
.2227
.2819
.2285
(1.818)
(0.889)
(1.481)
(0.388)
(2.126)
THE
.1452
.0751
.2067
.1342
.1091
ECONOMY
.1219
.1871
.1655
.1820
.1726
(1-191)
(0.401)
(1.249)
(0.737)
(0.632)
.2598
.2304
.2306
.2857
.1678
Budget Deficit
.1520
.2466
.2007
.2153
.2260
(1.709)
(0.934)
(1.149)
(1.327)
(0.742)

144
TABLE 12 (continued)
INDEPENDENT
VARIABLES
ALL
DEMOCRATS
WHO VOTED
FOR REAGAN
LESS THAN
S25,000/YEAR
GREATER
THAN OR
EQUAL TO
S25,000/YEAR
HIGH
SCHOOL OR
LESS
EDUCATION
COLLEGE
EDUCATED
Relations with
-.4217
.0908
-.7768
-.3154
-.5757
the
.2329
.3638
.3261
.3938
.3028
Sov iet Union
(-1.810)
(0.250)
(-2.382)
(-0.801)
(-1.901)
Vice
.6028
.5350
.6708
.2027
.9967
Presidential
1256
.2081
.1642
1870
.1777
Candidates
(4.801)
(2.570)
(4.086)
(1.084)
(5.608)
Party
1.2516
1.2972
1.2532
1.2498
1.3335
Affiliation
.1784
.2785
.2427
.2415
.2913
(7.014)
(4.658)
(5.164)
(5.176)
(4.577)
Helping the
.8281
.6713
1.0689
.6405
1.2435
Poor
1445
1988
.2224
.1921
.2366
(5.730)
(3.376)
(4.805)
(3.333)
(5.256)
.0117
.1523
-.1853
.1476
-.2805
Likeabilitv
1714
.2616
.2346
.2464
.2525
(0.068)
(0.582)
(-0.790)
(0.599)
(-1.111)
.4121
.4149
.3515
-.0162
.7267
Jesse Jackson
.2611
.3401
4161
4385
.3367
(1.579)
(1.220)
(0.845)
(0.037)
(2.159)
.5526
.3255
.6314
8404
.3935
The Debates
.1939
.3582
.2398
.3295
.2538
(2.850)
(.0909)
(2.633)
(2.550)
(1.550)
-1.3179
-1.5733
-1.2385
-1.5653
-1.1208
EXPERIENCE
.1538
.2753
.1943
.2387
.2116
(-8.571)
(-5.714)
(-6.374)
(-6.558)
(-5.296)
N = 1,022*
N = 443**
* *
N = 579
* *
N = 502
N = 520**
Auxilian
Bush = 474
Bush = 198
Bush = 276
Bush = 228
Bush = 246
Statistics1'
Dukakis = 548
Dukakis = 245
Dukakis = 303
Dukakis = 274
Dukakis = 274
Log = 479.94
Log = -205.24
Log = -264.24
Log = -243.47
Log = -228.51
R2 = .48
R2 = .48
R2 = .48
R2 = .49
R2 = .47
Note: The statistical results were produced using the probit technique. The dependent variable in the
model is vote choice; Michael S. Dukakis (1) or George Bush (2). Estimated probit coefficients and
standard errors precede t-values shown in parentheses.
a See appendix for discussion of the Aldrich-Nelson Pseudo R2 calculation.
* p < .01 for N > 1.000
**
p < .05 for N < 1,000

145
TABLE 13
GENDER AND RACE, CBS NEWS/NEW YORK TIMES DATA SET
The Effects of Model Independent Variables on Vote Choice
INDEPENDENT
VARIABLES
MEN
WOMEN
WHITE
MEN
WHITE
WOMEN
BLACK
MEN
BLACK
WOMEN
CRIME
-.5287
.0550
(-9.606)
-.6062
.0502
(-12.064)
-.6076
.0654
(-9.294)
-.7152
.0585
(-12.234)
-.4671
.1822
(-2.564)
-.7010
.1957
(-3.581)
TAXES
-.4324
.0621
(-6.964)
-.3596
.0555
(-6.477)
-.5936
.0747
(-7.943)
-.4117
.0645
(-6.381)
-.0292
.2130
(-0.137)
-.5302
.2249
(-2.358)
ABORTION
-.3683
.1048
(-3.513)
-.3405
.0705
(-4.832)
-.2883
.1141
(-2.528)
-.2747
.0765
(-3.589)
-.5315
.3815
(-1.393)
-.4658
.3882
(-1.199)
DUKAKIS'
LIBERAL
VIEWS
.0762
.0489
(1.559)
.4010
.0466
(8.602)
.0831
.0558
(1.488)
.3988
.0519
(7.689)
.0087
.1845
(0.047)
.6575
.2217
(2.965)
PATRIOTIC
VALUES
-.8105
.0853
(-9.505)
-.5884
.0754
(-7.802)
-.7427
.0955
(-7.773)
-.4954
.0816
(-6.071)
-.7079
.3225
(-2.195)
-.7901
.3106
(-2.544)
DEFENSE
-.2179
.0775
(-2.812)
-.2063
.0814
(-2.533)
-.1812
.0870
(-2.084)
-.1441
.0908
(-1.587)
-.5151
.2860
(-1.801)
-.4221
.3785
(-1.115)
Helping the
Middle Class
.7239
.0531
(13.633)
.5190
.0439
(11.830)
7977
.0595
(13.416)
.5962
.0482
(12.373)
.4827
.2034
(2.373)
0042
.1904
(0.022)
The
Environment
.4537
.0698
(6.503)
.4266
.0668
(6.391)
.5641
.0749
(7.533)
.5512
.0710
(7.758)
-.3369
.2619
(-1.286)
-4597
.3528
(-1.303)
THE
ECONOMY
.0155
.0497
(0.313)
-.0515
.0465
(-1.107)
t.0670
.0572
(-1.170)
-.1209
.0529
(-2.284)
.2903
.1841
(1.577)
-.4449
.1826
(-2.437)
Budget Deficit
.3789
.0599
(6.319)
.2030
.0668
(3.0.39)
.5165
.0644
(8.022)
.3011
.0709
(4.244)
-.0761
.2644
(-0.288)
.1858
4592
(0.405)

146
TABLE 13 (continued)
INDEPENDENT
VARIABLES
MEN
WOMEN
WHITE
MEN
WHITE
WOMEN
BLACK
MEN
BLACK
WOMEN
Relations with
the
Soviet Union
-.8256
.0984
(-8.391)
-.5888
. 1093
(-5.389)
-.7893
.1088
(-7.253)
-.5309
.1207
(-4.398)
-.8884
.3546
(-2.505)
-.9676
.4173
(-2.319)
Vice
Presidential
Candidates
6346
.0606
(10.477)
.6978
.0570
(12.230)
.7579
.0668
(11.351)
.8273
.0612
(13.516)
.1784
.2301
(0.775)
.3629
.3032
(1.197)
Party
Affiliation
1331
.0605
(2.201)
.1923
.0542
(3.548)
.1391
.0681
(2.042)
.1321
.0617
(2.141)
.0390
.2378
(0.164)
.5539
.2426
(2.283)
Helping the
Poor
1.1035
.0748
(14.752)
1.0889
.0612
(17.785)
1.1656
.0874
(13.335)
1.0922
.0688
(15.867)
.1376
.2127
(0.647)
.6233
.2391
(2.606)
Likeabilitv
-.1194
.0748
(-1.595)
-.0159
.0627
(-0.254)
-.0202
.0820
(-0.247
.0630
.0675
(0.934)
-.5457
.3032
(-1.799)
4449
.4346
(1.024)
Jesse Jackson
4762
.0939
(5.074)
1.0293
.0943
(10.919)
-.2622
.1410
(-1.859)
.2819
.1348
(2.091)
.4197
.2423
(1.732)
1.0110
.2691
(3.757)
The Debates
.1276
.0815
(1.565)
-.0166
.0704
(-0.236)
.1796
.0894
(2.010)
.0355
.0779
(0.456)
-.3326
.3270
(-1.017)
-.4038
.2973
(1.358)
EXPERIENCE
-1.3654
.0648
(-21.055)
-1.2350
.0587
(-21.045)
-1.2499
.0715
(-17.473)
-1.1422
.0641
(-17.815)
-1.6400
.2686
(-6.106)
-1.1671
.2718
(-4.294)
Auxiliary
Statistics43
N = 5,329*
Bush = 2,862
Dukakis = 2,467
Log = -2,451.12
R2 = .48
N = 6,113*
Bush = 2,822
Dukakis = 3,291
Log = -2,896.61
R2 = .49
N = 4,392*
Bush = 2,676
Dukakis = 1,716
Log = -1,888.91
R2 = .46
N = 4,944*
Bush = 2,669
Dukakis = 2,275
Log = -2,320.79
R2 = .48
N = 635**
Bush = 77
Dukakis = 558
Log =173.17
R2 = .35
N = 815**
Bush = 56
Dukakis = 759
Log =146.19
R2 = .26
Note: The statistical results were produced using the probit technique. The dependent variable in the
model is v ote choice; Michael S. Dukakis (1) or George Bush (2). Estimated probit coefficients and
standard errors precede t-values shown in parentheses.
a See appendix for discussion of the Aldrich-Nelson Pseudo R2 calculation.
* p < .01 forN > 1.000
**
p < .05 for N < 1,000

147
TABLE 14
REGION, CBS NEWS/NEW YORK TIMES DATA SET
The Effects of Model Independent Variables on Vote Choice
INDEPENDENT
VARIABLES
NORTHEAST"
SOUTH*
MIDWEST6
WEST'7
-.6895
-.5153
-.5456
-.4857
CRIME
.0793
.0694
.0701
.0813
(-8.688)
(-7.418)
(-7.778)
(-5.970)
-.3939
-.2881
-.4693
-.3772
TAXES
.0887
.0772
.0741
.0963
(-4.439)
(-3.732)
(-6.327)
(-3.915)
-.2245
-.0570
-.5836
-.3201
ABORTION
.1224
.1233
.1011
.1322
(-1.834)
(-0.463)
(-5.771)
(-2.420)
DUKAKIS'
.4106
.0883
.1776
.2669
LIBERAL
.0690
.0652
.0623
.0760
VIEWS
(5.944)
(1.355)
(2.851)
(3.510)
PATRIOTIC
-.8137
-.9455
-.5575
-.5160
VALUES
.1216
.1102
.1127
.1135
(-6.691)
(-8.581)
(-4.946)
(-4.545)
-.1893
-.4430
-.1694
-.0994
DEFENSE
.1216
.1129
.1022
.1233
(-1.557)
(-3.922)
(-1.657)
(-0.806)
Helping the
.5085
7812
.5693
.6299
Middle Class
.0683
.0669
.0599
.0815
(7.439)
(11.671)
(9.508)
(7.725)
The
.3519
.3858
.3851
.5507
Environment
.0947
.1014
.0957
.0999
(3.716)
(3.804)
(4.022)
(5.514)
THE
-.0928
.0169
.0354
-.0947
ECONOMY
.0711
.0653
.0620
.0757
(-1.305)
(0.259)
(0.571)
(-1.250)
.5200
.3344
.0631
.3312
Budget Deficit
.0969
.0882
.0792
.1002
(5.365)
(3.790)
(0.797)
(3.305)
Relations with
-.6732
-.7871
-.6737
-.8664
the
.1481
.1466
.1283
.1706
Sov iet Union
(-4.545)
(-5.368)
(-5.249)
(-5.076)
Vice
.8502
.6906
.5457
.6114
Presidential
.0882
.0799
.0743
.0962
Candidates
(9.639)
(8.641)
(7.346)
(6.354)
Party
.2770
.2926
.0883
.0237
.Affiliation
.0878
.0762
.0738
.0905
(3.153)
(3.837)
(1.197)
(0.263)

148
TABLE 14 (continued)
INDEPENDENT
VARIABLES
NORTHEAST"
SOUTH*
MIDWEST0
WEST*
Helping the
1.2717
1.0847
1.0029
1.1965
Poor
.1071
.0895
.0804
.1171
(11.874)
(12.109)
(12.465)
(10.216)
-.0944
-.1824
-.0098
.0189
Likeability
.0992
.0947
.0878
.1089
(-0.951)
(-1.926)
(-0.112)
(0.174)
.5384
.8422
.7896
.9539
Jesse Jackson
.1227
1184
.1257
.1793
(4.388)
(7.113)
(6.280)
(5.320)
.0960
-.0179
.0307
.0810
The Debates
.1141
.1108
.0933
1168
(0.841)
(-0.162)
(0.329)
(0.693)
-1.4075
-1.3094
-1.2156
-1.2784
EXPERIENCE
.0881
.0884
.0786
.0974
(-15.973)
(-14.807)
(-15.452)
(-13.118)
N = 2,790*
N = 3.184*
N = 3480*
N = 2412*
Auxiliary
Bush = 1443
Bush = 1,771
Bush = 1,690
Bush = 991
Statistics'3
Dukakis = 1,547
Dukakis = 1,413
Dukakis = 1,590
Dukakis = 1421
Log = 1,229.99
Log = 1,423.90
Log =1,618.20
Log = 1,042.01
R2 = .47
R2 = .47
R2 = .50
R2 = .49
Note: The statistical results were produced using the probit technique. The dependent variable in the
model is vote choice; Michael S. Dukakis (1) or George Bush (2). Estimated probit coefficients and
standard errors precede t-values shown in parentheses.
a Northeastern states include Maine, New Hampshire. Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island. New York.
Connecticut. New Jersey. Pennsy lvania. Delaware. Mary land. West Virginia. & District of Columbia.
b Southern states include Virginia. North Carolina. South Carolina, Georgia. Florida. Kentucky . Texas.
Tennessee. Alabama, Mississippi. Arkansas. & Louisiana.
c Midwestern states include Ohio. Indiana. Michigan. Illinois, Wisconsin. Minnesota. Iowa, Missouri.
North Dakota. South Dakota. Nebraska. Kansas. & Oklahoma.
^ Western states include Montana. Wyoming. Colorado. New Mexico. Idaho. Utah. Arizona. Nevada.
Washington, Oregon. California, Alaska, & Hawaii.
e See appendix for discussion of the Aldnch-Nelson Pseudo R2 calculation.
* p < .01 forN > 1.000

149
influencing voters against the selection of Dukakis. Rather, the summary evaluation term
"radical liberal" achieved significance. The liberal variable achieved significance
influencing vote choice against Dukakis among the aggregate electorate, Democrats,
men, women, white men, and white women.2 The evidence suggests that when confronted
with making a single statement regarding judgmental assessments of reasons why to be
concerned about Dukakis, voters found the term "radical liberal" to be a more
comprehensively inclusive label expressing their negative feelings toward the Democratic
nominee.
The results of the analyses of the exit poll survey and the October 8-10 survey also
suggest an alternative explanation for the inconsistent and unexpected results based on the
theory of "mental economies" advanced by Michael Gant and Dwight Davis. The theory
attempts to explain how voters can engage in issue-based voting even if they lack the
requisite information for such complex decision-making. The assumptions underlying the
theory of mental economies embrace the same base tenet of schema theory and the theory
of cognitive heuristics; voters engage in information processing that economizes political
decision-making. Furthermore, the theory assumes that people are limited in their ability
to process and retain information. Therefore, the theory argues:
It is sometimes efficient to remember only summary evaluations [of candidates]
while forgetting explicit components of those evaluations. Such summary
evaluations are likely to be expressed in global terms such as: "He's a good
Democrat." "He is a man you can trust." "He is too liberal." "He is for
farmers." None of these statements incorporates unambiguous policy-issue
content, but they may, nonetheless, be manifestations of specific issue
considerations. (Gant & Dwight 1984, 135)
In the context of the current research concerning the exit poll data, voters who
liked Dukakis' specific policy positions may have selected the response choice pertaining
to his liberal views because it captured the summary essence of their knowledge
2 The CBS News/New York Times October 8-10 survey had a sample size of 1,518 respondents. The probit
results are included in the appendix. Results for Reagan Democrats and black men and women are not
included because the number of respondents was insufficient for proper statistical analysis to be
conducted.

150
concerning the Democratic nominee's issue positions. The summary response may have
been a more appropriate selection particularly if specific issues which influenced their vote
choice did not appear among the mix of response choices. Similarly, when respondents
were confronted with the opportunity to make one single statement expressing their
concerns regarding Dukakis, as was the case in the October 8-10 survey, the summary
term "radical liberal" may have underscored their specific policy concerns regarding the
host of specific "negative cluster" issues.
The results of the probit analyses of both the CBS News New York Times exit poll
survey and the October 8-10 survey indicate that how voters engage in decision-making
and express those decisions in surveys may depend on how they process information
themselves and on the survey conditions with which they are confronted. Question and
response wording, restrictions on response choice, and the question format itself, whether
a single open-ended response or a limited selection of response choices, can potentially
impact what information is conveyed and in turn can produce statistical analyses with
seemingly contradictory results.
The model controlling for partisan identification explained approximately 49% of
the variance in the dependent variable for the electorate as a whole, 37% among
Democrats, 32% among Republicans, and 48% among Independents.
Reagan Democrats. Among the classifications of Reagan Democrats analyzed
experience proved to be the most potent issue against voters choosing Dukakis (table 12).
Comparing coefficients, the strength of the experience variable varied with income and
education. Experience was a stronger influence against the selection of Dukakis among
lower income (-1.5733) and less educated (-1.5653) Reagan Democrats than higher
income (-1.2385) and higher educated (-1.1208) Reagan Democrats. Dukakis' liberal
views also varied with income and education. While a significant factor influencing vote
choice in favor of Dukakis among Reagan Democrats in general, when controlling for

151
income and education Dukakis' liberalism was significant only among lower income and
less educated Reagan Democrats. In all categories analyzed the economy and taxes did
not prove to be a statistically significant factors affecting vote choice among Reagan
Democrats. National defense was a significant factor against choosing Dukakis only
among Reagan Democrats whose income was greater than or equal to $25,000 a year.
Crime and patriotic values were significant factors influencing voters against the
selection of Dukakis among all categories of Reagan Democrats analyzed Comparing
coefficients, crime was a stronger issue among higher income (-.6713) and less educated
(-.7291) Reagan Democrats than lower income (-.5544) and higher educated (-.5008)
Reagan Democrats. Controlling for income patriotic values was approximately equal in
strength as a voting issue against Dukakis among Reagan Democrats who made less than
$25,000 a year (-.7023) and those who made $25,000 a year or more (-.7430). However,
controlling for education, patriotic values was a stronger issue among Reagan Democrats
with a high school education or less (-.8568) than among college educated (-.5594)
Reagan Democrats.
Abortion did not achieve statistical significance as a voting issue among any of the
categories of Reagan Democrats analyzed This contradicts results gathered from the
model using ABC News Washington Post data reported in table 8 As previously
discussed, methodological constraints imposed by the CBS News New York Times survey's
limitation on responses may have produced this result.
The R2 figure indicates that the model explains approximately 48% of the variance
in the dependent variable among Reagan Democrats in general and among the two income
categories of Reagan Democrats analyzed. The model explains 49% and 47% of the
dependent variable variance among Reagan Democrats with a high school education or
less and college educated Reagan Democrats respectively.

152
Gender and race. Among all gender and racial categories analyzed, experience
was the strongest factor influencing vote choice against Dukakis (table 13). The
coefficients indicate that experience was a slightly stronger influence against choosing
Dukakis among men in the aggregate (-1.3654) and white men (-1.2499) than women in
the aggregate (-1.2350) and white women (-1 1422). Experience was a much stronger
influence against Dukakis for black men (-1.6400) than black women (-1.1671). With the
exception of black women, the economy w as not a significant factor influencing vote
choice. Surprisingly, among black women the economy tested as a significant influence
against the selection of Dukakis.
With the exception of black men, taxes was a significant issue influencing voters
against Dukakis among all analyzed categories. On the other hand, defense was only
statistically significant among men in general.
The significance of Dukakis’ liberal views varied according to gender. Among all
categories of women analyzed Dukakis' liberalism was significant in influencing voters to
choose the Democratic nominee. The coefficients indicate that Dukakis' liberalism was
strongest among black women (.6575). Among men in general, white men, and black
men, Dukakis' liberal views did not achieve statistically significant status.
Crime and patriotic values were statistically significant issues influencing voters
against Dukakis among all categories analyzed. Abortion again produced mixed results
when compared to those reported for the model using ABC News Washington Post data.
Abortion was a significant issue against Dukakis among men and women in the aggregate
and among white women. However, abortion did not achieve significance among black
men and women and was marginal as an insignificant issue against Dukakis among white
men. Again, a possible explanation for this inconsistency may lie with the methodological
constraints of the CBS News New York Times survey itself.
The model explains approximately 48% of the variance in the dependent variable
among men and white women. Among women, white men, and black men and black

153
women the model explains 49%, 46%, 35%, and 26% of the dependent variable variance
respectively.
Region. Experience was the strongest influence against voters choosing Dukakis
in all regions of the country (table 14). The variable coefficients indicate that experience
was the strongest in the Northeast (-1.4075) followed by the South, West, and Midwest
respectively. Taxes were also significant against the selection of Dukakis in all regions.
The coefficients indicate that the issue had its strongest impact among voters in the
Midwest (-.4693). National defense, however, only achieve statistical significance among
voters in the South (-3.922). The economy, on the other hand, did not achieve statistical
significance in any region of the country.
Dukakis' liberal views achieved significance influencing voters in favor of the
Democratic nominee in the Northeast and West. The variable coefficients indicate that
Dukakis' liberalism was strongest in the Northeast (.4106) and weakest in the South
(.0883). This result is not surprising as the Northeast has traditionally been the most
liberal region of the country and the South the most conservative.
Crime and patriotic values were both statistically significant issues influencing
voters against selecting Dukakis in all regions of the country. Similar to the results
reported with regard to the Pledge of Allegiance issue in the model using ABC
News Washington Post data, the t-value of the patriotic values variable was the most
potent in the South (-8 581). Again, the issue of abortion proved to be an anomaly. The
issue only achieved statistical significance among Midwestern voters. This contrasts with
the results reported in the ABC News Washington Post model in which abortion was a
significant influence against Dukakis among both Southern and Midwestern voters.
The R2 indicates that the model explains approximately 47% of the variance in the
dependent variable among Northeastern and Southern voters. The model explains 50%

and 49% of the dependent variable variance among Midwestern and Western voters
respectively.
154
Discussion
Was the economy a significant factor influencing voters to choose George Bush9
The evidence strongly favors the null hypothesis. In fact, the economy did not achieve
statistical significance in any category analyzed except among black women. The
coefficient indicates that the economy actually influenced black women to choose Bush.
This is surprising since conventional wisdom suggests that blacks, particularly women,
would tend to view the economic policies supported by Democratic candidates more
favorably. In addition, blacks did not reap the rewards of the economic expansion during
the 1980s to the extent that whites benefited from the strong economic recovery. The
evidence presented in this analysis suggests that despite other claims, the economy may
not have been as significant of an influence advancing Republican presidential fortunes in
1988 as previously thought.
Unlike the economy, the evidence indicates that experience was a significant factor
influencing voters to select Bush. Among all categories analyzed the t-values and
coefficients indicate that experience was the strongest variable in the model affecting vote
choice. The evidence suggests that despite Dukakis' claims to managerial competence
resulting from his years as Massachusetts' chief executive, the voters were more inclined
to view George Bush as the candidate more experienced to deal with presidential
responsibilities, particularly in foreign affairs. Voters' apprehension regarding Dukakis'
lack of foreign policy experience is underscored by the evidence which shows that among
all voters, Democrats, Independents, higher income Reagan Democrats, all gender and
racial categories and regions analyzed, the relations with the Soviet Union variable was a
salient vote choice issue influencing voters to select Bush.

155
Unlike the death penalty, prison furloughs, and the Pledge of Allegiance issues,
two "negative cluster" issues, taxes and defense, did not achieve statistical significance
among every analyzed category. However, where statistical significance was achieved
both issues worked against voters selecting the Democratic nominee. The issue of taxes
was significant among all voters in general, Republicans, Independents, all regions, and all
gender and racial categories analyzed with the exception of black men. Compared to
taxes, national defense was not as strong an issue. Defense achieved significance as an
issue against the selection of Dukakis only among all voters. Democrats, higher income
Reagan Democrats, men and women in general, and voters residing in the South. Despite
Bush's emphasis on national defense issues during the campaign, that fact that national
defense was limited in the scope of its statistical significance among the analyzed
categories suggests that its saliency was predicated on whether the issue was
fundamentally related to personal interests. For example, voters living in communities
economically sensitive to the defense industry may have been more susceptible to
Republican appeals concerning Dukakis' alleged opposition to many of the defense
systems developed and deployed under the Reagan administration. This may explain why
the issue achieved significance in the South where states, like Texas, are dependent on the
defense industry for jobs.
The Pledge of Allegiance and the death penalty and prison furlough issues are
generally represented in the model's patriotic values and crime variables. The analysis
results provide additional evidence to support the contention that the symbolic "negative
cluster" issues, particularly the death penalty, prison furloughs, and Pledge issues, used by
Bush to frame Dukakis as a liberal were significant factors influencing vote choice against
the Democratic nominee. Paralleling the evidence of the previous section, both the crime
and patriotic values variables achieve significance as voting issues against Dukakis in all
categories analyzed.

THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE AND THE REPUBLICAN STRATEGY
THE EFFECTS OF SYMBOLIC VALUE ISSUES IN KEY ELECTORAL STATES
In June, after Michael Dukakis had sown-up the Democratic nomination with his
victory in the California primary, polling results had shown the Massachusetts governor
with a significant lead over his probable opponent, George Bush. A USA Today CNN
survey of 1,253 registered voters conducted on June 7-9 had Dukakis beating Bush 45%
to 38%. Other poll results echoed the USA Today CNN findings. An NBC News Wall
Street Journal survey found Dukakis with 49% and Bush with 34% and a poll conducted
by the Gallop organization gave the Massachusetts governor 52% and the vice president
38%. Dukakis' lead over Bush widened further after the Democratic National Convention.
A post convention poll conducted by NBC News Wall Street Journal found Dukakis with
a 17 percentage point lead; 51% to 34% (Maloney 1989, 75). In the midst of their
jubilation concerning the poll results Dukakis' campaign advisors talked of a "fifty-state
strategy" (Germond & Witcover 1989, 413).
In reality, the broad national base the Republican party had developed in the
aftermath of the Great Society overshadowed the credibility of the Dukakis claim of a fifty
state strategy. Beginning in 1968, twenty three states with 202 electoral votes had gone
Republican in five consecutive presidential elections creating, in effect, a Republican
"lock" on the electoral college.1 With the exception of Virginia, these 202 electoral votes
did not include any electors from states within the old confederacy, a region which had
been trending Republican on the national level since 1964. On the other hand, only the
1 The twenty three states include New Hampshire. Vermont, New Jersey, Virginia. Indiana. Illinois, Iowa.
North Dakota. South Dakota. Nebraska. Kansas, Oklahoma. Montana. Idaho, Wyoming. Colorado, New
Mexico, Arizona, Utah. Nevada, Oregon. California, and Alaska.
156

157
District of Columbia with a grand total of 3 electors voted for the Democratic presidential
ticket in each of the five presidential elections after 1964
Besides the Republican advantage in the electoral college, the Democrats were
further handicapped by a lack of support talent experienced in presidential politics. Unlike
the Bush campaign team, much of Dukakis' inner circle, including campaign manager
Susan Estrich, were national level political novices. In contrast, Bush campaign chairman
James Baker was a veteran of several national political battles, having managed President
Ford's campaign in 1976, George Bush's in 1980, and President Reagan's 1984 reelection
effort. The vice president's campaign manager, Lee Atwater, was also no stranger to
presidential politics having served in a variety of campaign capacities during the 1970s and
1980s.
As the heady days of spring and summer gave way to the sobering realism of
autumn the Dukakis campaign, having witnessed their candidate squander a 17 point lead
in the national polls and facing the realities of the Republican electoral college advantage,
concentrated their efforts on a strategy which focused on eighteen states and the District
of Columbia (figure 15). In terms of electors, the mathematics of the Dukakis strategy
amounted to 272 votes, two more than needed to win. To this core group the governor's
strategists included seven additional states with a total of 43 electoral votes in which they
believed Dukakis was still competitive (figure 15). The Democrat's electoral college
strategy left virtually no room for error. Commenting on the dynamics of the Dukakis
campaign's electoral strategy Bush campaign manager Lee Atwater compared it to poker
saying their plan amounted to nothing more than an "inside-straight" (Germond &
Witcover 1989, 449).
For Bush the dynamics of the general election strategy were implemented on a
political playing field that centered on a group of large and medium size states in which the
race, by early October, was a virtual dead heat Initially, the Bush strategy amounted to
retaining the Republican base in the South and West and targeting Texas, Ohio, and New

VT 3
NH4
MA 13
RI4
CT 8
NJ 16
DE 3
DC 3
MD 10
4 FIGURE 15/Dukakis Electoral Strategy
Grey States-Highly Competitive States/272 votes
Grey Slash States-Competitive States/43 votes
White States-Solid Republican States/223 votes
Source: GermonJ & Wit cower 1989, 448
FIGURE 16/Bush Targeted States
Source: Germond& Witcover 1989, 415-416
NH 4
CT 8
NJ 16
DE 3
DC 3
MD 10
MA 13
RI4

159
Jersey for a total of 273 electoral votes. However, as Dukakis’ lead began to evaporate in
the face of the Republican onslaught. Bush strategists switched gears and mounted an
offensive operation waging the political ground and air war in those states Dukakis needed
to win (figure 16). During the final six weeks of the campaign Dukakis spent three-
fourths of his time in eight states-Califomia, Illinois, Michigan, Texas, New York, Ohio,
Pennsylvania, and Missouri According to Lee Atwater, "Literally, in those last weeks of
the campaign, there wasn't a single state that he [Dukakis] was in that he didn't
have to have, to win the whole election" (Germond & Witcover 1989, 416). The Bush
strategy was simply to bring the battle to Dukakis' own turf As one campaign official said
the Republican strategy was "to shadow the guy--don't let him do anything in the clear—
be where he is, get on the air with paid media where he is" (Drew 1989, 347). In the final
weeks of the campaign Bush spent more than half his time in six states—California, Illinois,
Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and New Jersey (Germond & Witcover 1989, 416). Bush
would often arrive in one of the eight states the Dukakis campaign had targeted shortly
after the Democratic nominee had made an appearance. Simultaneously, the vice
president's campaign saturated the airwaves in states targeted by the Dukakis team with
paid media advertising. The basic goal of the Republican strategy is contained in a
comment made by Robert Teeter, the Bush campaign's pollster. "We didn't want an inside
straight. If you're aiming for two hundred and seventy electoral votes, you should target
three hundred and fifty. If you could carry Texas, Ohio, and New Jersey, you could win
be carrying California, or Illinois, or Michigan—any one of those pulled the rug out from
under Dukakis" (Drew 1989, 347).
To deny Governor Dukakis his "inside straight" victory, the Bush campaign
focused the bulk of their candidate's time and the campaign's resources on winning several
key states, notably California, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, and New Jersey. Eight states are
analyzed to assess the extent that the symbolic "negative cluster" value issues affected
voters in key electoral states that either the Bush campaign targeted, the Dukakis

160
campaign needed to win, or both. The states included in the analysis are California,
Illinois, Maryland, Michigan. New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Highlights of
salient political events in each state precede the actual reporting of results. The results are
reported in tables 15 through 18
California
Campaign highlights. California, with 47 electors in 1988, was the largest electoral
prize. As a testament of the importance of the state to both campaigns, Bush and Dukakis
each made 21 campaign appearances in California between October 1st and election day,
November 8th From the outset the Bush team made crime a central issue in California.
Roger Stone, a Republican consultant who ran Bush's California effort, did not relent on
the issue even after Bush decisively beat Dukakis in the October 13th presidential debate.
According to Stone the important thing in California was that "we never departed from
our game plan—even after the euphoria of the second debate" (Drew 1989, 342). The
Bush campaign purchased a "saturation radio" buy highlighting Dukakis' positions on the
furlough issue and the Democratic nominee's opposition to the death penalty. Stone
claimed the death penalty was at least as strong an issue against Dukakis as the prison
furlough program among California voters (Drew 1989, 343).
The Bush campaign was not the only organization in California focusing on
Dukakis and crime. On October 20th, three weeks before election day, a pro-Bush
independent expenditure organization, Committee for the Presidency, began to broadcast
anti-Dukakis ads in Pacific coast media markets featuring the victims of furloughed
criminal Willie Horton (Maloney 1989, 150).
Traditionally, Californians have been sensitive to environmental issues. To
capitalize on Californians' concern for their environment the Republicans attempted to
paint Dukakis as unacceptable because of the governor's alleged neglect of Boston harbor.

161
TABLE 15
STRATEGIC ELECTORAL STATES,
ARC NEWS/WASHINGTON POST DATA SET
The Effects of Model Independent Variables on Vote Choice
INDEPENDENT
VARIABLES
CALIFORNIA
ILLINOIS
MARYLAND
MICHIGAN
.2425
-.2278
.1539
-.2742
ABORTION
.0860
.0952
.2471
.0789
(2.819)
(-2.393)
(0.623)
(-3.475)
THE
-1.2404
-.9629
-1.2341
-.8573
DEATH
.1018
.1145
.2844
.0971
PENALTY
(-12.185)
(-8.409)
(-4.339)
(-8.829)
THE PLEDGE
-.7592
-.8937
-1.1401
-1.2209
OF
.1564
.1603
.4293
.1676
ALLEGIANCE
(-4.863)
(-5.575)
(-2.656)
(-7.285)
.0423
.0245
-.3683
.2035
THE ACLU
.1585
.1692
.4398
.1549
(0.267)
(0.145)
(-0.837)
(1.314)
PRISON
-1.0155
-.7104
-1.6136
-.8145
FURLOUGHS
.1539
.1462
.5614
.1433
(-6.599)
(-4.859)
(-2.867)
(-5.682)
Dukakis/Bush
.0052
.3098
-.3113
.0653
Debates
.0745
.0784
.2075
.0762
(0.070)
(3.950)
(-1.500)
(0 857)
Bentsen/Quayle
.3091
.6806
.3117
.1054
Debates
.1199
.1335
.3213
.1263
(2.579)
(5.097)
(0.970)
(0.834)
Party
-. 1006
-.2716
.1684
-.0612
Affiliation
.0731
.0835
.2289
.0778
(-1.376)
(-3.251)
(0.736)
(-0.786)
Presidential
-.2905
-.0642
- 1328
-.2517
Candidate
.1168
1147
.3421
.1118
Personality
(-2.486)
(-.0560)
(-0.388)
(-2.251)
College
.5870
.6641
1.1683
.4509
Costs
.1440
.1444
4254
.1227
(4.077)
(4.597)
(2.746)
(3.675)

162
TABLE 15 (continued)
INDEPENDENT
VARIABLES
CALIFORNIA
ILLINOIS
MARYLAND
MICHIGAN
.9050
.4471
.9403
.8189
Health Care
.1147
.1152
.2942
.1019
(7 884)
(3.879)
(3.196)
(8.039)
.7944
.3837
-.3007
.3364
The Environment
.1120
.1287
.3314
.1047
(7.091)
(2.980)
(-0.907)
(3.211)
-.0687
.0768
-.5114
-.1928
Drugs
.1057
.1075
.2824
.0980
(-0.651)
(0.715)
(-1.811)
(-1.968)
.3122
.3413
4213
.2879
Education
.1111
1130
.3426
.1047
(2.811)
(3.021)
(1.230)
(2.750)
The Iran
1.0137
.8885
1.7252
.9972
Contra Affair
.1513
.1531
.6950
.1396
(6.698)
(5.804)
(2.482)
(7.144)
.2205
.0911
.2678
.1683
Social Security
.1210
1106
.2841
.1025
(1.822)
(0.824)
(0.943)
(1.642)
-.4672
-.3561
-.1446
-.5233
Capital Gains Tax
.1686
.1654
.5715
.1796
(-2.770)
(-2.152)
(-0.253)
(-2.914)
Foreign
-.4362
-.4125
-.3418
.0608
Competition
1221
1348
.3671
.1214
(-3.570)
(-3.060)
(-0.931)
(0.501)
.6867
.5100
.4784
.3845
Dan Quayle
.1256
.1330
.3439
1218
(5.468)
(3.834)
(1391)
(3.156)
1 1863
1.3471
1.4733
1.6297
Lloyd Bentsen
.1564
.1992
.4274
.1742
(7.582)
(6.762)
(3.447)
(9.356)
N = 2,358*
N = 1,901*
* *
N = 422
N = 2,072*
Auxiliary
Bush = 1,040
Bush = 829
Bush = 195
Bush = 1,050
Statistics0
Dukakis = 1,318
Dukakis = 1,072
Dukakis = 227
Dukakis = 1,022
Log = 1,084.57
Log = -995.58
Log = 208.23
Log = 1,058.06
R2 = .48
R2 = .51
R2 = .50
R2 = .51
Note: The statistical results were produced using the probit technique. The dependent variable in the
model is vote choice: Michael S. Dukakis (1) or George Bush (2). Estimated probit coefficients and
standard errors precede t-values shown in parentheses.
a See appendix for discussion of the Aldnch-Nelson Pseudo R2 calculation.
* p < .01 forN > 1.000
**
p < .05 forN < 1.000

163
TABLE 16
STRATEGIC ELECTORAL STATES,
ABC NEWS/WASHINGTON POST DATA SET
The Effects of Model Independent Variables on Vote Choice
INDEPENDENT
VARIABLES
NEW JERSEY
OHIO
PENNSYLVANIA
TEXAS
.2250
-.3878
-.4123
-.3064
ABORTION
.1026
.0906
.0798
.0840
(2.192)
(-4.278)
(-5.166)
(-3.644)
THE
-1.1675
-.8124
-.9321
-.9479
DEATH
.1117
.1061
.0929
.0917
PENALTY
(-10.448)
(-7.652)
(-10.024)
(-10.335)
THE PLEDGE
-.8388
-.6882
-.7124
-.8391
OF
.1694
.1578
.1233
.1263
ALLEGIANCE
(-4.950)
(-4.359)
(-5.774)
(-6.641)
.2427
-.1188
-.1339
.1161
THE ACLU
.1718
.1618
.1377
.1322
d-412)
(-0.734)
(-0.972)
(0.878)
PRISON
-1.1103
-1.0781
-1.1061
-.6801
FURLOUGHS
.1832
.1631
.1559
.1277
(-6.060)
(-6.609)
(-7.094)
(-5.326)
Dukaki s/Bush
.1077
.0776
.0558
.2899
Debates
.0821
.0746
.0747
.0735
(1.312)
(1.041)
(0.747)
(3.945)
Bentsen/Quayle
4927
.3377
.4343
.5006
Debates
.1340
.1239
.1170
.1210
(3.677)
(2.726)
(3.712)
(4.137)
Party
-.1207
-.1006
-.1988
.0139
Affiliation
.0854
.0781
.0761
.0726
(-1.413)
(-1.288)
(-2.610)
(0.192)
Presidential
-.3114
-.2987
-.1876
-.4947
Candidate
.1221
1127
. 1022
.1229
Personality
(-2.550)
(-2.649)
(-1.835)
(-4.022)
College
.6074
.6783
.6242
.4067
Costs
.1316
.1382
.1158
.1208
(4.614)
(4.907)
(5.388)
(3.365)

164
TABLE 16 (continued)
INDEPENDENT
VARIABLES
NEW JERSEY
OHIO
PENNSYLVANIA
TEXAS
.5556
.6002
.7954
.7674
Health Care
.1196
.1022
.0989
.1063
(4.646)
(5.869)
(8.041)
(7.217)
.2770
.3188
.2854
.5206
The Env ironment
.1106
1180
.1044
.1082
(2.505)
(2.702)
(2.732)
(4.812)
-.0782
-.0863
-.1241
-.0927
Drugs
1044
.0971
.0927
.0943
(-0.749)
(-0.889)
(-1.339)
(-0.982)
.3081
.1320
.4318
.2220
Education
.1199
.1089
.1001
.0966
(2.569)
(1.213)
(4.315)
(2.297)
The Iran
.9285
.9496
.8690
.8410
Contra Affair
.1577
.1529
.1368
.1284
(5.888)
(6.211)
(6.352)
(6.547)
.3123
.0947
.2168
.1278
Social Security
.1203
.0987
.0906
.1066
(2.595)
(0.960)
(2.392)
(1.199)
-.4560
-.5013
-.4796
-.7318
Capital Gains Tax
.1566
.1705
.1500
.1444
(-2.912)
(-2.940)
(-3.197)
(-5.069)
Foreign
-.4563
-.1240
-.2700
-.2383
Competition
.1395
.1203
.1199
.1142
(-3.272)
(-1.031)
(-2.251)
(-2.086)
.7428
.1764
.7655
.5539
Dan Quayle
.1381
.1143
.1176
.1214
(5.376)
(1.543)
(6.509)
(4.560)
1.9079
1.6342
1.2927
1.7914
Lloyd Bentsen
.2587
.1929
.1678
.1419
(7.375)
(8.469)
(7.701)
(12.625)
N = 1,893*
N = 2.029*
N = 2 J94*
N = 2,560*
Auxiliary
Bush = 1,025
Bush = 1,065
Bush = 1,146
Bush = 1,410
Statistics0
Dukakis = 868
Dukakis = 964
Dukakis = 1*248
Dukakis = 1,150
Log = -903.44
Log = 1,069.90
Log =1,199.34
Log =1,152.60
R2 = .49
R2 = .51
R2 = .50
R2 = .47
Note: The statistical results were produced using the probit technique. The dependent variable in the
model is vote choice: Michael S. Dukakis (1) or George Bush (2). Estimated probit coefficients and
standard errors precede t-values shown in parentheses.
a See appendix for discussion of the Aldrich-Nelson Pseudo R2 calculation.
* p < .01 forN > 1.000

165
TABLE 17
STRATEGIC ELECTORAL STATES,
CBS NEWS/NEW YORK TIMES DATA SET
The Effects of Model Independent Variables on Vote Choice
INDEPENDENT
VARIABLES
CALIFORNIA
ILLINOIS
MARYLAND
MICHIGAN
-.5256
-.6396
-.8112
-.5052
CRIME
.1086
.1744
.2365
.1718
(-4.841)
(-3.667)
(-3.429)
(-2.940)
-.3849
-.1542
-.7059
-.4207
TAXES
.1275
.1604
.2981
.2217
(-3.017)
(-0.961)
(-2.368)
(-1.898)
-.0894
-.5022
-.8515
-.3207
ABORTION
.1951
.2313
.4541
.2412
(-0.458)
(-2.171)
(-1.875)
(-1.329)
DUKAKIS’
.3546
.4419
.0254
.4261
LIBERAL
.1068
.1474
.2213
.1742
VIEWS
(3.319)
(2.997)
(0.115)
(2.445)
PATRIOTIC
-.5496
-1.2644
-.6849
-.5773
VALUES
.1631
.3038
.3422
.3137
(-3.368)
(-4.161)
(-2.001)
(-1.840)
-.3158
-.3098
-.5393
-.1217
DEFENSE
.1863
.2540
.4247
.3001
(-1.695)
(-1.219)
(-1.269)
(-0.406)
Helping the
.5487
.5774
.7150
.3981
Middle Class
.1117
.1423
.2336
.1751
(4.910)
(4.058)
(3.061)
(2.274)
The
.3508
.7670
.6404
.0354
Environment
.1301
.2574
.3401
.2335
(2.697)
(2,981)
(1.883)
(0.152)
THE
-.2189
-.1051
-.2601
-.0566
ECONOMY
.1037
.1460
.2131
.1582
(-2.110)
(-0.719)
(-1.221)
(-0.358)
.4477
-.0177
.1123
.2391
Budget Deficit
.1450
.2144
.2931
.2251
(3.087)
(-0.083)
(0.383)
(1.062)

166
TABLE 17 (continued)
INDEPENDENT
VARIABLES
CALIFORNIA
ILLINOIS
MARYLAND
MICHIGAN
Relations with
-9058
-1.4198
-.9729
-.7081
the
.2589
.4913
.4105
4587
Soviet Union
(-3.498)
(-2.890)
(-2.369)
(-1.543)
Vice
4160
.6346
.9659
.1781
Presidential
1321
1792
.2919
.2014
Candidates
(3.149)
(3.542)
(3.308)
(0.885)
Pam
-.1346
.4259
.5471
-.0650
Affiliation
.1190
.1865
.2762
.1893
(-1.131)
(2.283)
(1.981)
(-0.343)
Helping the
1.1883
1.0927
1.8408
.8508
Poor
.1699
.1949
.4055
.1932
(6.993)
(5.607)
(4.539)
(4 403)
-.2161
.2138
-.0633
-.1966
Likeability
.1486
.2103
.3514
.2526
(-1.454)
(1.017)
(-0.180)
(-0.778)
1.0271
.0115
1.0394
1.1219
Jesse Jackson
.2245
.2791
.3523
.3105
(4.574)
(0.041)
(2.950)
(3.613)
-.2272
-.1759
.6883
.2100
The Debates
1601
.2195
.4123
.2388
(-1.419)
(-0.801)
(1.669)
(0.879)
-1.3331
-1.0747
-1.6792
-1.4244
EXPERIENCE
.1324
.1832
.2835
.1974
(-10.064)
(-5.865)
(-5.923)
(-7.213)
N = 1,203*
N = 628**
* *
N = 339
**
N = 490
Auxiliary
Bush = 494
Bush = 327
Bush = 144
Bush = 197
Statistics"
Dukakis = 709
Dukakis = 301
Dukakis = 195
Dukakis = 293
Log = 551.61
Log = -292.25
Log =124.91
Log = -231.84
R2 = .48
R2 = .48
R2 = .42
R2 = .49
Note: The statistical results were produced using the probit technique. The dependent v ariable in the
model is vote choice; Michael S. Dukakis (1) or George Bush (2). Estimated probit coefficients and
standard errors precede t-values shown in parentheses.
a See appendix for discussion of the Aldrich-Nelson Pseudo R2 calculation.
* p < .01 forN > 1.000
**
p < .05 for N < 1.000

167
TABLE 18
STRATEGIC ELECTORAL STATES,
CBS NEWS/NEW YORK TIMES DATA SET
The Effects of Model Independent Variables on Vote Choice
INDEPENDENT
VARIABLES
NEW JERSEY
OHIO
PENNSYLVANIA
TEXAS
-.6749
-.7159
-.7005
,6002
CRIME
.2356
.1850
.2207
.1496
(-2.864)
(-3.869)
(-3.173)
(-4.012)
.0082
-.6179
-.5255
-.3006
TAXES
.2666
.2023
.2212
.1837
(0.031)
(-3.053)
(-2.375)
(-1.636)
-.3524
-.8758
,5575
,1110
ABORTION
.4875
.3115
.2848
.2854
(-0.723)
(-2.811)
(-1.957)
(-0.389)
DUKAKIS'
.4937
.1407
.7299
,1727
LIBERAL
.2016
.1683
.1961
.1382
VIEWS
(2.449)
(0.836)
(3.721)
(-1-250)
PATRIOTIC
-1.1521
-.5627
-1.0528
,6492
VALUES
.3968
.2995
.3405
.2411
(-2.903)
(-1.879)
(-3.091)
(-2.693)
-.0057
-.3769
,1068
,7014
DEFENSE
.3259
.3064
.3369
.2509
(-0.018)
(-1.230)
(-0.317)
(-2.795)
Helping the
.4977
4496
.4254
.9122
Middle Class
.2168
.1602
.1673
.1467
(2.296)
(2.805)
(2.543)
(6.217)
The
.0412
-.0322
-.095.3
.9186
Environment
.2768
.2602
.3049
.3471
(0.149)
(-0 124)
(-0.313)
(2.646)
THE
-.1915
.0554
.1345
.3281
ECONOMY
.2294
.1644
.1801
.1454
(-0.835)
(0.337)
(0.747)
(2.257)
.1329
-.2068
.3653
.2950
Budget Deficit
.3021
.2342
.2499
.2236
(0.440)
(-0.883)
(1.462)
(1319)

168
TABLE 18 (continued)
INDEPENDENT
VARIABLES
NEW JERSEY
OHIO
PENNSYLVANIA
TEXAS
Relations with
-1.5955
-.1957
-.7014
-.0271
the
7645
.2596
.3894
.2810
Soviet Union
(-2.087)
(-0.754)
(-1.801)
(-0.097)
Vice
.7799
.7198
1.0881
6687
Presidential
.2716
.2010
.2357
.1682
Candidates
(2.871)
(3.581)
(4.616)
(3.976)
Partv
1604
.1323
.3492
.2149
Affiliation
.2840
.2124
.2411
.1760
(0.565)
(0.623)
(1.448)
(1.221)
Helping the
1.4790
1.2162
.9675
1.1581
Poor
4656
2098
.2335
.2021
(3.177)
(5.795)
(4.142)
(5.728)
-.4619
.0592
-.1967
-.5405
Likeability
.3101
.2415
.2177
.2369
(-1.489)
(0.245)
(-0.904)
(-2.281)
.8547
1.3959
.0732
.7612
Jesse Jackson
.3632
.3091
.3889
.2636
(2.353)
(4.516)
(0.188)
(2.887)
4987
-.1632
.0968
.4181
The Debates
.4096
.2798
.2747
.2507
(1.217)
(-0.583)
(0.352)
(1.667)
-1.2391
-.9329
-1.4169
-1.5871
EXPERIENCE
.2665
.2097
.2160
.2058
(-4.650)
(-4.448)
(-6.559)
(-7.711)
N = 291 *
N = 484*
N = 437*
N = 726*
Auxiliary
Bush=121
Bush = 250
Bush = 209
Bush = 375
Statistics11
Dukakis = 170
Dukakis = 234
Dukakis = 228
Dukakis = 351
Log = -132.32
Log = -22739
Log =193.20
Log = -301.49
R2 = .48
R2 = .48
R2 = .47
R2 = .45
Note: The statistical results were produced using the probit technique. The dependent variable in the
model is vote choice; Michael S. Dukakis (1) or George Bush (2). Estimated probit coefficients and
standard errors precede t-values shown in parentheses.
a See appendix for discussion of the Aldrich-Nelson Pseudo R2 calculation.
* p < .05 forN < 1.000

169
TABLE 19
1988 PRESIDENTIAL GENERAL ELECTION,
POPULAR & ELECTORAL VOTES/STRATEGIC STATES
GEORGE BUSH (R)
MICHAEL S. DUKAKIS (D)
STATE
(Electoral votes)
POPULAR
VOTES
%a
POPULAR
VOTES
°/oa
PLURALITY
California (47)
5,054,917
51.8
4.702.233
48.2
352.684 (R)
Illinois (24)
2.310,939
51.0
2.215.940
49.0
94.999 (R)
Mary land (10)
876,167
51.5
826.304
48.5
49.863 (R)
Michigan (20)
1,965,486
54.0
1.675.783
46.0
289.703 (R)
New Jersey (16)
1,743,192
56.9
1.320,352
43.1
422.840 (R)
Ohio (23)
2,416,549
55.5
1.939.629
44.5
476.920 (R)
Pennsy lvania (25)
2,300,087
51.2
2.194.944
48.8
105.143 (R)
Texas (29)
3,036,829
56.3
2.352.748
43.7
684.081 (R)
Source: Presidential Elections, 1789-1992. Congressional Quarterly, 1995
a Percentages are recorded for the major parts candidates only and do not reflect the total s ote cast.
On election day the Dukakis campaign mounted an aggressive grassroots "get-out-
the-vote" effort. Democrats had 10,500 volunteer leaders in the state's 23,627 precincts
who made over 70,000 phone calls each day during the final week of the campaign
(Morrison 1988, 231). However, their efforts were not enough to mute the effects of
Bush's massive media barrage and the eleventh hour pitch for support on the vice
president's behalf from the Golden State's favorite son, Ronald Reagan. Bush defeated
Dukakis in California by a margin of less than 2% of the total vote cast (table 19).
ABC News Washington Post data set The results of the probit test indicate that
three of the "negative cluster" issues; the death penalty (-12.185), the Pledge of Allegiance

170
(-4.863), and the prison furlough issue (-6.599) were significant factors influencing
Californians to vote against Dukakis (table 15). The results also confirm Stone's
assessment concerning the influence of the death penalty on vote choice. The coefficients
of the two crime issues, the death penalty and the furlough issue, were fairly equal in their
degree of strength against Dukakis. The fact that the environment was a significant factor
influencing voters to select Dukakis (7.091) indicates that among Californians Bush's
efforts at denigrating Dukakis' environmental record failed. The R2 figure estimates that
the model explained approximately 48% of the variance in the dependent variable among
California voters.
CBS News New York Times data set. The probit tests indicate that among the
variables associated with the "negative cluster" issues crime (-4.841), taxes (-3.017), and
patriotic values (-3.368) were significant influences against voters choosing Dukakis
(table 17). Defense was not significant, nor was the economy. However, experience
(-10.064) was overwhelmingly the strongest variable in the model influencing vote choice
against the Massachusetts governor. Specific voter concerns regarding foreign policy
experience may be reflected in the relations with the Soviet Union variable (-3.498).
Overall, experience issues appear to have been the strongest influences against Dukakis as
the variable coefficients are greatest in the model for the experience variable (-1.3331) and
the relations with the Soviet Union variable (-.9058). Dukakis' liberal views tested
significant influencing vote choice in the governor's favor. The model provides additional
evidence to suggest that Bush failed to make the environment a salient voting issue against
Dukakis among California voters. As in the model using the ABC News Washington Post
data, the t-value for the environment variable was significant (2.697) but worked in favor
of voters choosing Dukakis. The R2 figure indicates that 48% of the variance in the
dependent variable is explained by the model.

171
Illinois
Campaign highlights. Like California, crime was the focal point of the Bush
campaign and local Republican efforts on behalf of the vice president. The Bush campaign
purchased large segments of television time to air the "Revolving-door" ad. However, the
most controversial campaign tactic was practiced by the state GOP In October, the
Illinois Republican party distributed an anti-Dukakis brochure focusing on the Democratic
candidate's support for prison furloughs and his opposition to both the death penalty and
the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools. Headlined with "All the
murderers, rapists, drug pushers, and child molesters in Massachusetts vote for Michael
Dukakis," the brochure claimed that "Dukakis has said that if the people of Massachusetts
vote by referendum to reinstate the death sentence, he will commute every death penalty
given to murderers by juries" and that the Democratic nominee "supports the 'right' of
Massachusetts convicts to vote." Outraged by the brochure, Dukakis, in an appearance in
Quincy, Illinois on October 19th, called the tactic "political garbage" (Black & Oliphant
1989, 303).
.Another brochure from the Illinois GOP featured a well-known Chicago mass
murderer, John Wayne Gacy. After a celebrated 1980 trial highlighted by a large amount
of national and local media coverage, Gacy was convicted of killing 33 young men and
boys. The brochure, capitalizing on Gacy's infamous status, proclaimed: "Stop and think!
If John Wayne Gacy had committed his atrocious crimes in Boston instead of Chicago, he
would be eligible for weekend passes under Michael Dukakis' furlough program"
(Jamieson 1992, 473).
Traditionally, Democratic candidates win Illinois if their margins in Chicago and
the Cook County suburbs can offset Republican votes in the southern part of the state.
Unfortunately for Dukakis, Bush won the Chicago suburbs resulting in the vice president
receiving a 95,000 vote plurality out of over 4.5 million cast (table 19).

172
ABC News Wash inpon Post data set. The results indicate that the issues of crime
and patriotism dominated over other variables in the model as issues influencing Illinois
voters against choosing Dukakis (table 15). The t-values for the death penalty (-8.407),
the Pledge of Allegiance issue (-5.573), and the prison furlough issue (-4.856) achieved
significance influencing vote choice against Dukakis. Comparing the coefficients, the
death penalty (-.9629) was a stronger crime issue than prison furloughs (-.7104) for
Illinois voters. The coefficient of the Pledge of Allegiance variable (-.8937) indicates that
it was fairly equal in its potency with the death penalty issue The R2 figure shows that
approximately 51% of the variance in the dependent variable is explained by the model.
CBS News New York Times data set The probit tests indicate that crime
(-3.667) and patriotic values (-4.161) were significant influences against voters choosing
Dukakis (table 17) Comparing the coefficients it appears that patriotic values (-1.2644)
had a stronger effect than crime (-.6396) among Illinois voters. Other "negative cluster"
issues, notably taxes and defense issues, were not significant However, abortion (-2.171)
was significant as was Dukakis' liberal views (2.997). Experience worked strongly in
Bush's favor. While the experience variable had the strongest t-value (-5.865), it appears
that when variable coefficients are compared it was not the strongest influence against
Dukakis. Among the variable mix the relations with the Soviet Union variable posted the
strongest coefficient (-1 4198). The R2 indicates that the model explains 48% of the
variance in the dependent variable among Illinois voters.
Maryland
Campaign highlights. Illinois was not the only state where the local GOP was
active in disseminating anti-Dukakis mailings on the subject of crime. A local fund raising
letter, referring to Dukakis and Horton as a "team," was mailed from David Fleming, the

173
chair of the Maryland Republican party. Mailed in September, the letter asked, "Is this
your pro-family team for 1988?" The text of the letter added, "You, your spouse, your
children, and your friends can have visit from someone like Willie Horton if Mike Dukakis
becomes president" (Jamieson 1992, 472). The strategic intent embodied in the content of
the letter is notable because two of Horton's well-known victims, Cliff and Angela Barnes,
reside in the state. The letter's release generated a storm of controversy which ultimately
resulted in the vice president's campaign chair James Baker publicly disavowing its
content. In response to the controversy Baker stated that the letter was "totally out of
bounds, totally unauthorized; it was not authorized by this [the Bush] campaign" (Feagin
& Vera 1995, 116).
When the ballots were counted Bush defeated Dukakis by less than 50,000 votes, a
narrow margin in traditionally Democratic Maryland. The Washington suburbs of
Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties are two of the most Democratic suburbs in the
nation. However, Dukakis' margins in these counties were insufficient to place Maryland
in the Democratic electoral vote column in 1988.
ABC News Washington Post data set. The t-value results indicate that the death
penalty (-4.339), the Pledge of Allegiance (-2.656), and prison furloughs (-2.867) were
the strongest issues influencing voters against Dukakis (table 15). However, comparing
coefficients shows that the prison furlough issue had the strongest impact (-1.6136)
followed closely by the death penalty (-1.2341) and the Pledge issue (-1.1401). In fact, of
the eight states analyzed the coefficient of the furlough variable was greatest in Maryland,
the state where Horton committed his most infamous crime. The R2 figure indicates that
approximately 50% of the variance in the dependent variable is explained by the model.
CBS News New York Times data set. Among the variables representing the
negative cluster" issues crime (-3.429), taxes (-2.368), and patriotic values (-2.001) were

174
significant influences against Maryland voters choosing Dukakis (table 17). Not
surprisingly, when comparing the coefficients of the significant anti-Dukakis "negative
cluster" variables crime (-.8112) had the most potency. Among Maryland voters
experience seemed to be the dominate issue working against Dukakis. Both the t-value
(-5.923) and the coefficient (-1.6792) of the experience variable were the strongest among
the variable mix. Defense, the economy, and Dukakis' liberal views did not test
significant. The model explains approximately 42% of the variance in the dependent
variable
Michigan
Campaign highlights. Michigan was important to Bush strategists because of the
high concentration of Reagan Democrats in the state. Macomb County, a predominately
white suburb located just north of Detroit, is home to a large number of manufacturing
plants, many connected with the automobile industry. Since the 1972 election working
class Macomb County has been reliably Republican in presidential contests. Robert
Teeter, a Michigan native, claims that the Bush campaign picked his home state to deal the
fatal blow to Dukakis' electoral fortunes partly because Michigan had become less
Democratic over the years (Drew 1989, 347). To keep Reagan Democrats from returning
to their traditional partisan loyalties the Bush campaign engaged in an aggressive
advertising campaign focusing on the issues of crime and national defense.
On election day Bush won a comfortable victory in Michigan. The vice president's
8% margin over Dukakis was the result of sufficient pluralities in suburban Detroit
Macomb and Oakland Counties to offset the Democratic nominee's urban vote advantage.
ABC News Washington Post data set. The t-values show that among Michigan
voters the death penalty (-8.829), the Pledge of Allegiance (-7.285), and prison furloughs

175
(-5.682) were strongly significant influences against voting for Dukakis (table 15). The
effects of the Bush campaign's emphasis on crime is apparent in the relative strength of the
death penalty (- 8573) and the prison furlough (-.8145) coefficients. The coefficient of the
Pledge issue (-1.2209) indicates that it was a stronger influence against Dukakis than the
two crime issues. Abortion was also a statistically significant factor working against
voters selecting Dukakis. The model explains approximately 51% of the variance in the
dependent variable
CBS News New York Times data set. The probit tests indicate that the crime
variable (-2.940) was the only "negative cluster" factor that was a significant influence
against Dukakis among Michigan voters (table 17). In part, the findings confirm the
results derived from the ABC News Washington Post data with regard to the overall
strength of crime issues among the "negative cluster" mix. However, the fact that the
patriotic values variable does not achieve statistical significance contrasts with the results
regarding the Pledge issue in the ABC News Washington Post data set. Survey
methodology may be responsible for this anomaly. As previously mentioned, CBS
News New York Times exit poll respondents, when answering the questions used in this
research, could only select a maximum of two responses from those provided forcing
individuals to engage in systematic prioritizing. Respondents to the ABC
News Washington Post exit survey were under no such restrictions. While the patriotic
values variable is close to achieving statistical significance (-1.840) it is plausible that
restrictions on the number of responses affected the data results and account for the fact
that the Pledge issue tests significant while the patriotic values variable does not.
Among the remaining variables, experience (-7.213) again worked strongly in
favor of voters choosing Bush. The potency of the coefficient (-1.4244) indicates that
experience was the strongest factor influencing vote choice among the variable mix.
Dukakis' liberal views tested significant as influencing Michigan voters to select the

176
Democratic nominee. However, the economy, taxes, and national defense did not achieve
statistical significance. The R2 figure indicates that the model explains 49% of the
variance in the dependent variable.
New Jersey
Campaign highlights. The Garden State became the setting for the general election
campaign's most celebrated media events underscoring the Pledge of Allegiance issue.
Twice during the month of September the vice president highlighted the issue of
patriotism through two highly visible trips to flag factories, one located in Bloomfield,
New Jersey. The Bush campaign also saturated the New York and Philadelphia media
markets with commercials concerning the prison furlough and death penalty issues.
In addition, the Republicans used the environment as an issue against Dukakis in
New Jersey. Taking advantage of a 1987 Dukakis proposal to discard Massachusetts
sewage in the Atlantic Ocean near New Jersey, the Bush campaign produced and aired a
commercial highlighting Governor Dukakis' application for a permit to dump off the coast
of the Garden State The commercial was similar in style and content to the famous
"Harbor" ad which challenged Dukakis' competence concerning the clean-up of waterways
adjacent to the city of Boston. The commercial referred to Dukakis as "a risk New Jersey
can't afford to take."
On November 8th Bush defeated Dukakis decisively in the Garden State taking
approximately 57% of the vote to 43% for his Democratic opponent
ABC News Washington Post data set The t-value results indicate that the death
penalty (-10.448), the Pledge of Allegiance (-4.950), and the prison furlough (-6.060)
issues were strongly significant factors influencing Garden State voters against Dukakis
(table 16). The coefficients indicate the death penalty (-1.1675) and the prison furlough

177
(-1.1103) issues were equally strong negative influences against Dukakis while the Pledge
was somewhat less potent (-.8388). The probit results show that despite Bush's efforts to
make the environment an issue against Dukakis, it did not negatively affect vote choice
against the Massachusetts governor In fact, the positive nature of the coefficient
indicates that as an issue influencing vote choice the environment actually worked in favor
of Dukakis among New Jersey voters. The model explains approximately 49% of the
variance in the dependent variable.
CBS News New York Times data set. Among New Jersey voters crime (-2 864)
and patriotic values (-2.903) were significant factors influencing choice against Dukakis
(table 18). However, the probit test indicates that the Democratic candidate's liberal views
were significant factors influencing Garden State voters to select him over Bush. Taxes,
defense, and the economy were not statistically significant influences on vote choice.
Comparing t-values, experience (-4.650) was the strongest variable factor influencing vote
choice against Dukakis. However, comparing coefficients relations with the Soviet Union
(-1.5955) was the most potent negative influence. Unlike the ABC News Washington Post
data findings, the environment did not test significant. Again methodological reasons
similar to those outlined in the discussion of the Michigan results could be the root cause.
The R2 suggests that 48% of the variance in the dependent variable is explained by the
model.
Ohio
Campaign highlights. When considering who to select as a vice presidential
running mate many political observers believed Governor Dukakis would select Ohio
Senator and space hero John Glenn. However, because of some questions regarding
personal finances the ever cautious Dukakis opted instead for Texas Senator Lloyd

178
Bentsen (Drew 1989, 347). Lee Atwater considered Dukakis' selection of Bentsen instead
of Glenn a political mistake. According to Bush's campaign manager, "If they had taken
John Glenn [then] you'd have had a relatively close election that would have stymied our
whole campaign because I doubt that we would have seriously tried to compete in
Ohio. ... It was a totally irrational political decision" (Germond & Witcover 1989, 416).
The absence of Glenn from the Democratic ticket permitted the Bush campaign to
effectively compete for Ohio's 23 electoral votes. As in other target states, the Bush
campaign underscored the issues of crime and patriotism in their assault on Governor
Dukakis.
Handicapped without native-son John Glenn on the ticket, Dukakis lost Ohio by
over 475,000 votes. Of the targeted states with large electoral votes, only Bush's adopted
home state of Texas gave the vice president a larger plurality than the Buckeye State
(table 19).
ABC News Washington Post data set. Among the "negative cluster" issues the
death penalty (-7.652), the Pledge of Allegiance (-4.359), and prison furloughs (-6.609)
were significant influences against voters choosing Dukakis (table 16). Comparing
coefficients, the prison furlough issue (-1 0781) had a stronger impact than either the
death penalty (-.8124) or the Pledge issue (-.6882). Abortion (-4.278) also registered as a
significant factor influencing choice against Dukakis among Ohio voters. Of the remaining
variables only presidential candidate personality (-2.649) and the capital gains tax issue
(-2. 940) achieved voting issue status against Dukakis. Fifty one percent of the dependent
variable variance is explained by the model.
CBS News New York Times data set. Reported t-values indicate that among the
"negative cluster" issues crime (-3.869), taxes (-3.053), and abortion (-2.811) were
significant factors influencing voters against selecting Dukakis (table 18). As is the case

179
with the Michigan results, patriotic values (-1.879) is shy of achieving statistical
significance in the CBS News New York Times data set while the Pledge issue is reported
as significant in the test using ABC News Washington Post data. Again, methodological
constraints may be responsible for this discrepancy. The economy, defense, and Dukakis'
liberal views did not achieve statistical significance. Among the variable mix, experience
reported the largest t-value (-4.448) and the highest coefficient (-.9329) indicating that it
had the strongest negative effect on voters choosing Dukakis. The R2 indicates that 48%
of the dependent variable variance is explained by the model.
Pennsylvania
Campaign highlights. A rust-belt industrial state, Pennsylvania is home to a large
population of ethnic, working class voters, many of whom voted for Ronald Reagan in
both 1980 and 1984. Pennsylvania provided the Bush campaign with a microcosm
laboratory for the implementation of their national strategy. Bush not only engaged in a
paid media blitz, but to enlighten voters about Governor Dukakis' crime record the Bush
campaign utilized surrogates in the Key Stone State. One surrogate, a reporter, had
extensively investigated and written about Willie Horton and the prison furlough issue
(Germond & Witcover 1989, 423).
Dukakis advocacy of gun control and abortion rights also proved to be handicaps
among Pennsylvania voters. Dukakis' state campaign coordinator, Lanny Johnson, was
shocked to learn that 60% of Pennsylvania adults held hunting licenses and were prime
targets for mailings from both the Bush campaign and the National Rifle Association
(Germond & Witcover 1989, 424).
Among the large northern states, Pennsylvania has one of the stronger pro-life
populations. This is best exemplified by the fact that a pro-life Democrat, Robert Casey,
was elected governor in 1986 and reelected in 1990. The saliency of the abortion issue

180
among Pennsylvania voters is demonstrated by the fact that the ABC News Washington
Post exit poll showed that among the issues important in making their presidential choice
abortion came out on top with 35% of the respondents selecting the issue. Of those citing
abortion as important in their presidential choice 57% selected Bush.
Dukakis held his urban base winning 69% of the vote in Philadelphia and 60% in
Allegheny County (Pittsburgh). However, Bush's strength in the suburban and rural
counties offset the Democrat's urban margins to propel the vice president to a narrow
victory in Pennsylvania.
ABC News Washington Post data set. The probit tests indicate that among
Pennsylvania voters abortion (-5.166), the death penalty (-10.024), the Pledge of
Allegiance (-5.774), and prison furloughs (-7.094) were strongly significant factors
influencing choice against Dukakis (table 16). The significance of abortion working
against voters selecting Dukakis, a pro-choice candidate, is not surprising as the pro-life
position has enjoyed strong support from Pennsylvanians. Dukakis' party affiliation
(-2.610) achieved significance status along with the capital gains tax (-3.197) as factors
influencing choice against the Democratic nominee The R2 figure indicates that the model
explains approximately 50% of the variance in the dependent variable.
CBS News New York Times data set. The probit tests demonstrate that of the
"negative cluster" issues crime (-3.173), taxes (-2.375), and patriotic values (-3.091) were
statistically significant influences against voter selection of the Massachusetts governor
(table 18). Dukakis' liberal views achieved significance as a factor influencing voters to
select the Democratic nominee. The abortion issue achieved near significance (-1.957).
Again, methodological constraints may have influenced the strength of abortion as a factor
influencing vote choice among this data set. Experience achieved the most potent t-value
(-6.559) and the largest coefficient (-1.4169) among Pennsylvania voters indicating that

181
among the variable mix it had the strongest overall effect on vote choice. The economy
and national defense did not achieve statistical significance. The model explains 47% of
the variance in the dependent variable.
Texas
Campaign highlights. Adopted home state of George Bush and home of
Democratic vice presidential nominee Lloyd Bentsen, the presidential race was initially
highly competitive in Texas. The race was regarded to be competitive, not only because
of the state's 29 electoral votes, but because of the rematch, albeit indirectly, between
Bush and Bentsen. In 1970 Bentsen defeated Bush, his GOP challenger, in the race for
the United States Senate. With Bentsen on the ticket the Dukakis campaign expressed
confidence in being able to carry Texas invoking nostalgic memories of another election
twenty eight years earlier in which the "Boston-Austin" team of Kennedy and Johnson
defeated another incumbent vice president in the Lone Star state.
To deny Dukakis his nostalgic victory, the Republican campaign made heavy use
of radio and television advertising concentrating on the issues of crime, school prayer, the
Pledge of Allegiance, and defense (Drew 1989, 343). A "Get Out of Jail Free" card,
reminiscent of the Monopoly board game, was mailed by the Bush campaign to 400,000
Texans. The card claimed Dukakis "had let convicted rapists, murderers, and drug dealers
out of prison on weekend passes and even while out on furlough they raped and tried to
kill again" (Jamieson 1992, 473). In addition, state Republicans mailed thousands of
brochures with the words to the Pledge of Allegiance proclaiming in headline fashion:
"These are the words Dukakis doesn't want your child to have to say!" (Blumenthal 1990,
295-296).
The defense industry is an important source of employment in Texas. To
underscore Dukakis' perceived weaknesses in matters dealing with national security the

182
Bush campaign made twelve separate radio ads. Broadcast in regions with large defense-
related plants, one ad proclaimed: "He's [Dukakis] not just talking about America losing
ground. He's talking about Texans losing jobs!" (Blumenthal 1990, 296).
Independent organizations sympathetic to Bush were also active in Texas. The
NRA, focusing on the issue of gun-control, "concentrated its anti-Dukakis efforts in rural
areas, in the South—especially Texas" (Jamieson 1992, 477). The NRA purchased
billboards along Texas highways that contained a single statement in quotation marks, "I
don't believe in people owning guns." Under the quote appeared the name of Michael
Dukakis. The billboards were complemented by a radio campaign featuring NRA
spokesman Charlton Heston proclaiming that while governor Dukakis "did everything he
could to take guns away from honest citizens" (Jamieson 1992, 477). ALAMO-PAC
attacked Dukakis on the crime issue producing and airing an ad in Texas that charged that
Dukakis vetoed mandatory prison sentences for convicted drug dealers, had opposed the
death penalty for drug "murderers," and supported weekend furloughs for drug convicts.
A second ad produced by ALAMO-PAC showed a burglar, presumably freed under a
furlough program, creeping into a dark bedroom (Jamieson 1992, 474).
A race that had initially been considered competitive, by election day the
presidential contest in Texas was a Republican rout. Texas transplant George Bush
defeated Dukakis by over 680,000 votes (table 19).
ABC News Washington Post data set. The t-values indicate that abortion
(-3.644), the death penalty (-10.335), the Pledge of Allegiance (-6.641), and prison
furloughs (-5.326) were all issues that significantly influenced Texans against voting for
Dukakis (figure 16). The coefficients show that the death penalty (-.9479) and the Pledge
issue (-.8391) were more potent than the furlough issue (-.6801) and abortion (-.3064).
Not surprisingly, Senator Bentsen was the strongest significant variable in favor of Texans
choosing Dukakis (12.625). While Bentsen was a positive factor working in Dukakis'

183
favor among each of the analyzed states, not surprisingly, it was in Texas that the Bentsen
variable achieved its highest t-value. The model accounted for 47% of the variance in the
dependent variable
CBS News Afew York Times data set. Among the "negative cluster" issues crime
(-4.012), patriotic values (-2.693), and defense (-2.795) worked strongly against Texans
choosing Dukakis (table 18). The success of the Bush campaign's aggressive use of paid
media highlighting national defense issues in the Lone Star State is demonstrated by the
fact that of the eight states discussed in this analysis, only in Texas did defense prove to be
a statistically significant factor. In addition, only in Texas did the economy prove to be a
statistically significant factor, which in this case, worked to influence choice in Dukakis'
favor. Like defense, the significance of the economic variable reflect the effects of
regional and local factors. Texas did not benefit economically to the same extent that
other regions and states in the country did during the 1980s in part because world oil
prices collapsed. A depressed local economy worked to the Democrats' advantage in
Texas. The liberal views of the Democratic nominee did not achieve significance as a
factor influencing vote choice. Experience, again, reported the greatest t-value (-7.711)
among the variable mix. Similarly, the coefficient of the experience variable (-1.5871) was
the largest thus indicating that the issue had the strongest influencing effect on vote
choice. The R2 indicates that approximately 45% of the variance in the dependent variable
is explained by the model.

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
The general election results indicate that George Bush scored a resounding victory
winning 54% of the popular vote which translated into 426 electoral votes (figure 17).
Regionally, Dukakis was only competitive with Bush in the Northeast where both
candidates secured approximately 50% of the popular vote. Bush outpolled Dukakis in
both the West and Midwest by comfortable margins and won a landslide victory among
Southerners (table 20 and figure 18). Exit poll results indicate that Bush's winning
coalition was predicated on four factors; a strong Republican base vote, a plurality of
votes from Independents, reversing the Democrat's traditional advantage among women
by securing a large portion of votes from white females, and support from a significant
percentage of Reagan Democrats (figures 19 & 20).
What do the results of this research suggest9 First, the Bush campaign was
successful in defining Michael Dukakis as a liberal. Among the electoral categories
analyzed, with the exception of working class Reagan Democrats, the longitudinal
analyses measuring both the strength of association between vote choice and perceptions
of Dukakis as too liberal and the probability that a Bush supporter, when compared to a
Dukakis supporter, thought the Democratic nominee was too liberal increased over the
course of the general election campaign. Similarly, the longitudinal analysis of the
electorate's ideological perceptions of Dukakis indicate a positive increase during the
course of the election cycle in the percentage of voters believing the Massachusetts
governor to be a liberal.
Second, the value-based "negative cluster" issues used by Bush to define Dukakis
as a liberal and examined in this research support the argument advanced by the theory of
184

185
VT 3
NH 4
MA 13
RI4
CT 8
NJ 16
DE 3
DC 3
MD 10
FIGURE 17/1988 Electoral College Map
White States/George Bush (R) 426 votes
Grey States/Michael S. Dukakis (D) 112 votes*
*One West Virginia elector cast their ballot for Lloyd Bentsen
for President and Michael S. Dukakis for Vice President
100%
Northeast
South
Mdw est
West
EH Bush/Popular Vote
â–¡ Dukakis/Ftopular Vote
â–¡ Bush/Bectoral Vote
â–  Dukakis/Bectoral Vote
FIGURE 18/Popular and Electoral Vote Choice (By Region)
Source: Presidential Elections, 1789-1992, Congressional Quarterly, 1995

186
TABLE 20
1988 PRESIDENTIAL GENERAL ELECTION
POPULAR AND ELECTORAL VOTES BY REGION
GEORGE BUSH (R)
MICHAEL S. DUKAKIS (D)
REGION
POPULAR
VOTES
°/oe
ELECTORAL
VOTES
POPULAR
VOTES
%e
ELECTORAL
VOTES
PLURALITY
Northeast0
11,314,247
50.4
73
11.124.714
49.6
62*
189,533 (R)
South*
14,295,168
58.6
147
10.085.047
41.4
0
4.210,121 (R)
Midwest4-
13,593,227
53.0
116
12.039,029
47.0
29
1.554,198 (R)
WestJ
9,683,455
53.1
90
8.560.284
46.9
21
1.123.171 (R)
Total
48,886,097
53.9
426
41.809,074
46.1
112
7,077,023 (R)
Source: Presidential Elections, 1789-1992. Congressional Quarterly, 1995
a Northeastern states include Maine. New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts. Rhode Island. New York,
Connecticut. New Jersey. Pennsy lvania. Delaware. Mary land, West Virginia. & District of Columbia.
* Southern states include Virginia, North Carolina. South Carolina. Georgia. Florida. Kentucky'. Texas,
Tennessee, Alabama. Mississippi. Arkansas. & Louisiana.
c Midwestern states include Ohio. Indiana. Michigan, Illinois. Wisconsin. Minnesota. Iowa, Missouri,
North Dakota. South Dakota, Nebraska. Kansas, & Oklahoma.
^ Western states include Montana. Wyoming, Colorado. New Mexico. Idaho. Utah. Arizona. Nevada.
Washington, Oregon. California. Alaska. & Hawaii.
e Percentages are recorded for the major party vote only and do not reflect the total vote cast.
* One Democratic elector from West Virginia. Margaret Leach, actually cast her vote for Lloyd Bentsen
for President; her vote is recorded in the table for the actual Democratic candidate, Michael S. Dukakis.

187
All Voters Democrats Republicans Independents Reagan
Democrats
â–¡ George Bush â–¡ IVtchael S Dukakis
FIGURE 19/Vote Choice (By Partisan Classification)
ABC News/Washington Post Exit Poll, November 8, 1988
Men Women White Men White Women
â–¡ George Bush â–¡ Mchael S. Dukakis
FIGURE 20/Vote Choice (By Gender and Race)
ABC News/Washington Post Exit Poll, November 8, 1988

188
symbolic politics, that through the use of issues laden with symbolic meaning affective
predispositions can be stimulated so as to influence voting behavior. The symbolic
"negative cluster" value issues that George Bush used to define Michael Dukakis as a
liberal were effective in influencing vote choice among key electoral groups. Three of the
"negative cluster" issues addressed in this research, the Pledge of Allegiance, the death
penalty, and prison furloughs, were measured as significant factors which consistently
influenced vote choice against Dukakis in all partisan classifications, categories of Reagan
Democrats, regional, and gender and racial categories analyzed (the only exception was
prison furloughs which did not achieve statistical significance as a voting issue among
black women). The near universal saliency of the Pledge of Allegiance, the death penalty,
and prison furloughs can be attributed to the emphasis that the Bush campaign placed on
these three issues as focal points in their national and targeted state strategies. Both the
death penalty and prison furlough issues were featured prominently in Bush's paid media
campaign. The Bush campaign's "Revolving-door" and "Crime quiz" television spots and
their radio counterparts saturated media markets across the country, particularly in states
with large electoral votes. And the infamous "Willie Horton" television spot sanctioned by
the independent expenditure committee, Americans for Bush, was also broadcast
frequently. The free media kept the Pledge of Allegiance issue at the forefront of public
attention through Bush's frequent recitations of the Pledge at rallies and his periodic visits
to flag factories. In fact, during the campaign's final week if polls indicated that the race
was too close to call Bush's media team had prepared a television spot highlighting
Dukakis' veto of the Pledge of Allegiance bill. The spot was never used (Taylor 1990,
204).
Abortion and the ACLU issues did not achieve the same level of consistency
across all analyzed categories. A plausible reason for this is that the Bush campaign chose
not to emphasize these two issues to the same degree as other "negative cluster"
counterparts. The ACLU issue never appeared in any paid media spot and only received

189
media attention when Bush chose to attack Dukakis for his affiliation with the group in
stump speeches and during the first televised presidential debate. Similarly, the candidates'
positions on abortion were not highlighted to any great degree during the general election
campaign. It must be considered that Bush strategists, conscious of a perceived gender
gap, may have decided to avoid using the abortion issue in any consistent, national level
fashion for fear of alienating pro-choice Republican women. However, when abortion and
the ACLU issue happened to be important factors influencing vote choice among groups
analyzed in this research their significance appears to be a function of income and
education. Less educated and lower income Reagan Democrats were more inclined to
view abortion as a significant factor in their vote choice against Dukakis while dismissing
the ACLU issue. Conversely, the ACLU issue achieved significance and abortion did not
among Reagan Democrats with higher education levels and income.
Two other "negative cluster" issues, taxes and national defense, did not impact
vote choice consistently across analyzed categories. When taxes and defense were
significant they were not generally as potent as the crime and patriotic values variables
represented by the death penalty, prison furloughs, and Pledge of Allegiance issues in the
model using ABC News Washington Post data. However, it must be recognized that the
results may be suspect because the survey instrument used in the analysis of taxes and
national defense limited the number of response choices requiring voters to engage in
systematic prioritization. This methodological constraint may have affected the degree of
potency of the tax and national defense issues as they relate to their "negative cluster"
counterparts. Despite this constraint, the model indicates that taxes, and to a lesser degree
national defense, impacted vote choice against Dukakis among certain electoral
subgroups. As previously discussed, the degree of significance of the defense variable
may have been correlated with regional and local economic factors such as employment.
The results also address the issues of the economy and experience and their effect
on vote choice. Academic researchers have spent considerable time and effort arguing

190
about the effects of retrospective and prospective assessments of the economy on vote
choice. In addition to previous studies concerning the 1988 election, conventional
wisdom suggests that Bush should have benefited electorally because of the robust
economic situation during and immediately preceding the election year However, the
evidence presented in this research indicates that the economy was not a consistently
significant factor influencing vote choice. Only among black women and Texans did the
economy matter.
However, unlike the economy, experience appears to be the issue that most
significantly influenced vote choice against the Democratic nominee. Among all analyzed
groups the coefficients of the experience variable were the greatest indicating that the
issue was the strongest determinant of vote choice against Dukakis.
Third, the research suggests that both campaigns and non-rational factors, such as
symbolic values, do impact voting behavior. Vince Breglio, a Bush pollster, agrees with
this assessment:
There's no question about that. This country still votes for people who
share a mainstream traditional value system. And I'm sorry these values
aren't reflected in Cambridge, [Massachusetts], but across the rest of
America they are an important determinant of the vote. And [through
the campaign] we got our message out.1
Scholars have argued that campaign content and strategy matter in mobilizing
potential supporters (Rosenstone and Hansen 1993) and influencing perceptions of the
candidates (Nimmo & Savage 1976):
We know that for many voters perceptual/response dispositions form
early m the campaign, but that a sufficiently large number are influenced
by the campaign, particularly as portrayed in the media, to suggest that
campaigns at least make some difference. (Nimmo & Savage 1976, 39)
1 Quoted from an interview with Vince Breglio and Dukakis campaign pollster Irwin "Tubby" Harrison
conducted by Ben Wattenberg for Public Opinion. v olume 11, number 5, January/February 1989.
page 51.

191
This research has provided evidence to support the contention that campaign
strategy does matter in determining electoral outcomes. The statistical analyses presented
here confirm the suspicions of qualitative researchers and political commentators who
claim that the Bush campaign was successful in using certain symbolic value issues to
create the image among the electorate as a whole, and Reagan Democrats in particular,
that Dukakis was a liberal The evidence also suggests that Nimmo and Savage are
correct in claiming that voters respond to candidates on the basis of the perceptions they
have of them thus making candidate images a significant short-term force in elections.
During the course of the general election campaign Dukakis' unfavorable rating increased
from 37% of the electorate on Labor Day to 50% on the eve of the election with one of
every two white voters having a negative opinion of the Democratic nominee (Maloney
1989, 74).
In the final analysis, the election results, in conjunction with the statistical evidence
presented in this study, suggest the importance of two traditionally non-Republican
electoral groups which helped to provide Bush with his margin of victory; Reagan
Democrats and women.
Reagan. Now Bush. Democrats
The actual exit poll results and the probit analyses of the effects on vote choice of
the symbolic "negative cluster" value issues, particularly the death penalty, prison
furloughs, and the Pledge of Allegiance, indicate that the Bush strategy of targeting
Reagan Democrats with the "Dukakis is a liberal" message succeeded beyond the
campaign's initial expectations. According to NBC News correspondent Connie Chung,
"Bush campaign strategists consistently said that Bush only need[ed] one third of Reagan
Democrats to win."2 On election day, exit poll surveys indicated Reagan Democrats
2 Transcribed from video tape of.NBC News television coverage of the 1988 election. 8 November 1988.

192
composed 12% of the voters who went to the polls. Of this 12% the ABC
News Washington Post exit poll survey reports George Bush received 48% of their votes
and Michael Dukakis 51%.3 Despite the survey showing Dukakis winning back over half
of the Democrats who voted for Reagan in 1984, according to the Bush campaign's
electoral formula regarding Reagan Democrats suggested by Chung the vice president's
48% showing among this group was more than adequate for victory The post-election
analysis conducted by ABC News concluded that Reagan Democrats composed a toll 10%
of Bush voters:
Three quarters of all Bush's Democratic support, a tenth of all his backers,
came from previous Democratic Reagan voters. Only a quarter of Bush's
Democratic supporters, two percent of his vote, were non-Reagan supporters
or officially newly-mmted "Bush Democrats." (Smith 1989, xlviii)
If the ABC News Washington Post exit poll results are accurate then approximately
10.9 million of the over 915 million voters who cast ballots on election day, Tuesday,
November 8th were Reagan Democrats. Considering that Bush defeated Dukakis by 7
million votes, it is not unreasonable to infer that the over 5.2 million Democrats who had
supported Ronald Reagan in 1984 and subsequently voted for George Bush in 1988
formed a critical component of the vice president's winning electoral coalition.
Gender: Women Dump the Duke!
Women voters also formed a key component of Bush's electoral coalition. In May
women voters sided with Dukakis 53% to 35% for Bush (Pomper 1989, 121). By
election day, Dukakis' lead among women evaporated. Bush muted the Democrats'
traditional advantage among this key electoral subgroup by battling Dukakis to a near
draw among female voters. The ABC News Washington Post exit poll showed Bush
3 Figures taken from The '88 Vote, an analysis of exit poll statistics produced by ABC News.

193
winning 50% of the women's vote to 49% for his Democratic opponent (figure 20). The
reversal of Bush's fortunes among female voters can be traced to the presidential vote
preferences of white women. On election day Bush won 55% of the white female vote.
Two symbolic value issues worked against Dukakis among women patriotism and
crime. The Pledge of Allegiance issue was a significant factor reversing Dukakis' fortunes
among female voters. According to the statistical evidence gathered from the ABC
News Washington Post exit poll, the Pledge of Allegiance was a significantly stronger
issue among women than men. This confirms the conclusions drawn by Farah and Klein:
The Pledge of Allegiance influenced women's v ote intention, but not men’s.
Men who thought the Pledge was not an important issue were as likely to
vote for Bush over Dukakis (52 to 38 percent) as those who felt the
issue mattered (49 to 38 percent). Women who believed the Pledge was
an important issue rewarded Bush (52 to 31 percent): those who felt it
was not important favored Dukakis (49 to 37 percent). (Pomper 1989. 123)
Issues of personal security also were significant factors influencing women,
particularly white women, to choose Bush. However, unlike the Pledge of Allegiance, the
death penalty and prison furlough issues affected white men and white women fairly
equally. Whether or not it was the intention of the Bush campaign or the independent
expenditure committees supporting the vice president's candidacy to heighten racial fears
and prejudice by emphasizing Willie Horton, the image of a black criminal raping a white
women certainly impacted vote choice. Before the fall campaign, women were more likely
than men to view Dukakis as the tougher candidate on criminals (Pomper 1989, 124).
However, by October, after the Republican media blitz, the result was reversed, a plurality
of both men and women thought that Bush would be tougher on crime. Of those who
believed the vice president was tougher on criminals 86% of the men supported Bush and
only 6% Dukakis Among women, 79% supported Bush and 10% the Massachusetts
governor (Pomper 1989, 124).
Finally, the evidence provided in this study suggests that non-rational factors, such
as value issues, can influence political behavior. When attempting to understand how

194
voters make their electoral choices it is important not to limit one's analysis to solely
rational criteria such as economic performance, partisanship, and issue specifics. It must
be understood that each campaign is comprised of a unique set of circumstances
determined by the characteristics of the participants themselves, the strategies they and
their campaign teams employ, and the general social, economic, and political environment
in which the campaign is conducted. Political professionals and consultants often use
emotional symbolic issues in their attempts to influence the electoral behavior of voters.
This being the case, when recognizable non-rational factors, such as emotional symbolic
value issues, are injected into the campaign dialogue it is important not to discount their
potential significance as powerful determinants of vote choice.
One of the most interesting observations concerning the 1988 presidential general
election campaign is its striking similarity to the 1978 Massachusetts Democratic
gubernatorial primary campaign. The fact George Bush used a series of symbolic value
issues, similar to those employed by Edward J. King to oust Dukakis from the Boston
state house, indicates that both the Democratic presidential nominee and his political inner
circle did not possess an adequate appreciation of the influence such issues could have on
the public's perceptions of Dukakis and their effect on subsequent voting behavior. What
is even more striking is that Dukakis allowed Bush to replicate the basic strategy used by
King to influence similar demographic voting groups both his opponents needed to court
in order to build winning electoral coalitions. Despite his 1978 gubernatorial defeat, the
potential effects both campaign strategy and symbolic value issues can have on voters'
perceptions of the candidates and how such issues can influence their subsequent voting
behavior were clearly lost on Michael Dukakis.

APPENDIX
SELF-DESCRIBED IDEOLOGICAL TENDENCIES & CANDIDATE
PREFERENCES AMONG DEMOGRAPHIC SUBGROUPS OF
MASSACHUSETTS VOTERS WHO PARTICIPATED
IN THE 1978 DEMOCRATIC GUBERNATORIAL PRIMARY
ALL VOTERS
CANDIDATE
Liberal
Moderate
Conservative
Totals
Edward J. King
35% (N = 26)
56% (N 79)
70% (N = 39)
53% (N = 144)
Michael S. Dukakis
65% (N 48)
44% (N = 62)
30% (N = 17)
47% (N = 127)
Totals
27% (N = 74)
52% (N = 141)
2\%(N = 56)
100% (N=271)
DEMOCRATS
CANDIDATE
Liberal
Moderate
Conservative
Totals
Edward J. King
26% (N = 11)
57% (N = 46)
1\% (N = 17)
50% (N = 74)
Michael S. Dukakis
74% (N = 31)
43% (N = 35)
29% (N =7)
50% (N = 73)
Totals
29% (N = 42)
55% (N = 81)
16% (N = 24)
100%(N=147)
INDEPENDENTS
CANDIDATE
Liberal
Moderate
Conservative
Totals
Edward J. King
43% (N = 13)
54% (N = 31)
63% (N = 15)
53% (N = 59)
Michael S. Dukakis
57% (N = 17)
46% (N = 26)
37% (N = 9)
47% (N = 52)
Totals
21% (N = 30)
51% (N = 57)
22% (N = 24)
m%(N=ni)
HIGH SCHC
IOL EDUCATION OR LESS
CANDIDATE
Liberal
Moderate
Conservative
Totals
Edward J. King
59 %(N = 17)
62% (N = 41)
74% (N = 20)
64% (N = 78)
Michael S. Dukakis
4\% (N = 12)
38% (N = 25)
26% (N = 7)
36% (N = 44)
Totals
24% (N = 29)
54% (N = 66)
22% (N =27)
100% (N-I22)
GREATER THAN A HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATION
CANDIDATE
Liberal
Moderate
Conservative
Totals
Edward J. King
20% (N = 9)
51 %(N =38)
66% (N = 19)
44% (1V = 66)
Michael S. Dukakis
80% (N = 36)
49% (N =37)
34% (N = 10)
56% (N = 83)
Totals
30% (N = 45)
50% (N = 75)
20% (N = 29)
100% (N=149)
195

1%
INCOME LESS THAN $10,000 A YEAR
CANDIDATE
Liberal
Moderate
Conservative
Totals
Edward J. King
56% (N = 9)
67% (N -- 28)
75% (N = 12)
66% (N = 49)
Michael S. Dukakis
44% (N = 7)
33% (N - 14)
25% (N = 4)
34% (N = 25)
Totals
22% (N = 16)
56% (N = 42)
22% (N = 16)
100% (N = 74)
INCOME LESS THAN $15,000 A YEAR
CANDIDATE
Liberal
Moderate
Conservative
Totals
Edward J. King
44% (N - 15)
65% (N - 43)
75% (N = 21)
62% (N = 79)
Michael S. Dukakis
56% (N - 19)
35% (N = 23)
25% (N =7)
38% (N = 49)
Totals
26% (N = 34)
52% (N 66)
22% (N = 28)
100% (N=128)
INCOME LESS THAN $20,000 A YEAR
CANDIDATE
Liberal
Moderate
Conservative
Totals
Edward J. King
38% (N = 18)
58% (N = 55)
67% (N = 28)
55% (N = 101)
Michael S. Dukakis
62% (N = 30)
42% (N = 40)
33% (N = 14)
45% (N = 84)
Totals
26% (N = 48)
51% (N = 95)
23% (N = 42)
100 %(N=185)
INCOME GREATER THAN $20,000 A YEAR
CANDIDATE
Liberal
Moderate
Conservative
Totals
Edward J. King
31 %(N ^ 8)
52% (N = 24)
79 %(N = 11)
50% (N - 43)
Michael S. Dukakis
69% (N - 18)
48% (N = 22)
2\%(N = 3)
50% (N = 43)
Totals
30% (N - 26)
54% (N - 46)
16% (N = 14)
100% (N = 86)
UNION HOUSEHOLDS
CANDIDATE
Liberal
Moderate
Conservative
Totals
Edward J. King
35% (N = 9)
55% (N = 30)
61% (N = 11)
51% (N = 50)
Michael S. Dukakis
65% (N = 17)
45% (N = 25)
39% (N = 7)
49% (N = 49)
Totals
26% (N = 26)
56% (N = 55)
18 %(N = 18)
100% (N = 99)
NON-UNION HOUSEHOLDS
CANDIDATE
Liberal
Moderate
Conservative
Totals
Edward J. King
34% (N = 16)
57% (N = 49)
74% (N = 28)
54% (N = 93)
Michael S. Dukakis
66% (N = 31)
43 %(N = 37)
26% (N = 10)
46% (N = 78)
Totals
21%(N = 47)
50% (N = 86)
23% (N = 38)
m%(N=171)
BLUE COLLAR
CANDIDATE
Liberal
Moderate
Conservative
Totals
Edward J. King
44% (N =7)
59% (N = 24)
80% (N = 8)
58% (N = 39)
Michael S. Dukakis
56% (N = 9)
4\%(N = 17)
20% (N = 2)
42% (N = 28)
Totals
24% (N = 16)
61 %(N = 41)
15%tfV = 10)
100 %(N = 67)

197
WHITE COLLAR
CANDIDATE
Liberal
Moderate
Conservative
Totals
Edward J. King
34% (TV = 13)
49% (TV = 27)
52% (TV = 12)
45% (A - 52;
Michael S. Dukakis
66% (N = 25)
51% (TV = 28)
48% (TV - 11)
55% (TV - 64)
Totals
33% (TV = 38)
47% (TV = 55)
20% (TV = 23;
100 %(N=116)
URBAN
CANDIDATE
Liberal
Moderate
Conservative
Totals
Edward J. King
39% (TV = 12)
56% (TV = 2/;
68% (TV = (3;
53% (7V = 56;
Michael S. Dukakis
6\%(N = 19)
44% (TV =24>
32% (N = 6)
47% (N = 49)
Totals
30% (TV = 31)
52% (TV = 55;
18%(7V - /9;
100% (N -105)
SUBURBAN
CANDIDATE
Liberal
Moderate
Conservative
Totals
Edward J. King
33% (N = 14)
56% (N = 48)
70% (TV = 26)
53% (TV = 88)
Michael S. Dukakis
67% (N = 29;
44% (7/ = 38)
30 %(N = 11)
47% (TV = 78)
Totals
26% (N = 43)
52% (TV = 86)
22% (TV = 37)
100% (TV=766;
MEN
CANDIDATE
Liberal
Moderate
Conservative
Totals
Edward J. King
40% (N ^ 18)
58% (?V = 36)
79% (TV = 27;
57% (TV = 81)
Michael S. Dukakis
60% (TV = 27)
42% (TV =26;
21% (TV = 7)
43% (TV = 66;
Totals
32% (TV = 45;
44% (TV =62;
24% (TV = 34)
100% (5V=74/;
WOMEN
CANDIDATE
Liberal
Moderate
Conservative
Totals
Edward J. King
29% (N = 8)
54% (TV = 43;
55% (7V = 12)
49% (TV = 63;
Michael S. Dukakis
71% (TV = 26;
46% (TV = 36;
45% (TV = 10)
51% (TV = 66;
Totals
22% (TV = 2#;
61 % (TV = 79;
17% (TV = 22;
100% (TV =729;

198
RÍDIT SCORES
The ridit score for a response category equals the proportion of observations
below that category plus half the proportion in that category. They are used to describe
the differences between groups measured on an ordinal variable. For the July 1988 survey
of all voters and their views of Michael Dukakis the ridit scores are calculated as follows:
"Are Michael Dukakis' views
too liberal, just about right, or too conservative for you?"
July 88/All voters
Too Conservative
Just About Right
Too Liberal
Total
Bush
52
26
264
342
Dukakis
28
424
35
487
Total
80
450
299
829
Let 7Tj denote the proportion of the sample observations that are in the /th
category of the ordinal variable For the above table the proportions are:
7T, = 80/829 = .096
tt2 = 450/829 = 543
tt3 = 299/829 = .361
Ridit scores are the average cumulative proportions for these responses. Therefore:
For the "too conservative" category the ridit score is r} = .096/2 = .048
For the "just right" category the ridit score is r2 = .096 + .543/2 = .3675
For the "too liberal" category the ridit score is r3 = .096 + 543 + .361/2 = .8195
Notice that the ridit scores fall between 0 and 1 and increase as they move left to
right on the scale. A summary of the respondents' views of Dukakis' political ideology can
be calculated for Bush supporters and Dukakis supporters by computing the mean ridit
scores for each group The mean ridit score for each group is calculated as follows:
r, = [52( 048) + 26(,3675) + 264( 8195)]/342 = .668
r2 = [28( 048) + 424( 3675) + 35( 8195)]/487 = .382
Since r, > r2 then Bush supporters tend to believe that Dukakis is too liberal compared to
similar feelings held by Dukakis supporters.

199
Because mean ridit scores fall between 0 and 1 then the mean ridit score for the
combined sample must equal .5. In the example, for instance, the mean ridit score for the
combined sample is:
[80( 048) + 450(.3675) + 299( 8195)] = 5
A useful interpretation of the ridit score is to approximate the probability that a
randomly selected individual from group 1 (Bush supporters) ranks higher than a
randomly selected individual from group 2 (Dukakis supporters). This can be
accomplished by using the formula r, - r2 + .5. Hence in the example the estimate of the
probability that a Bush supporter thinks Dukakis is too liberal compared to a Dukakis
supporter is:
.668 - .382 + .5 = .786
Or, an alternative way to interpret the statistic is as follows. The probability that a
Dukakis supporter thinks Dukakis is too liberal compared to a Bush supporter is:
1 - .786 or r2 - r, +.5 => 382 - .668 + 5 = 214
ALDRICH-NELSON PSEUDO R2
The R2 used in the research is calculated using the Aldrich-Nelson Pseudo R2
method. The formula is as follows:
R2 = -2(Iog likelihood)/[N - 2(log likelihood)]
To illustrate, data from table 3 is used to calculate the Pseudo R- for the "all
voters" category, N = 93,929 and log likelihood = -58,946.13:
R2 = -2(-58,946.13)/[93,929-2(-58,946.13)] « 56

200
QUESTION WORDING/CODING
The coding of the dependent variable, vote choice, in each model analyzed in this
research is (1) for Michael Dukakis and (2) for George Bush. The wording of the survey
question and its responses from the ABC News Washington Post exit poll that is analyzed
in this research using the probit technique is as follows:
"Were any of the items below VERY IMPORTANT in making your presidential
choice?" (respondents were not restricted in their number of selections)
The Dukakis/Bush debates
The Bentsen/Quayle debates
My candidate's political party
My candidate's personality
Bush choosing Quayle for Vice President
Dukakis choosing Bentsen for Vice President
The candidates' stands on:
1) Abortion, 2) The death penalty, 3) College costs, 4) Health care, 5) The Pledge of
Allegiance, 6) The ACLU, 7) Environmental problems, 8) Illegal drug problems, 9)
Education, 10) The Iran-Contra Affair, 11) Prison furloughs,
12) Social Security, 13) Capital gains tax, 14) Foreign competition
The wording of the survey questions and their responses from the CBS News New
York Times exit poll that are analyzed in this research using the probit technique are as
follows:
"Which issues mattered most in deciding how you voted?" (respondents were
restricted to a maximum of two selections)
1) Punishing criminals, 2) Helping the Middle Class, 3) Environment and pollution, 4)
Economic prosperity and jobs, 5) The federal budget deficit, 6) Not raising taxes, 7)
Defense spending, 8) U.S.-Soviet relations, 9) Abortion
"Which factors mattered most in deciding how you voted?" (respondents were
restricted to a maximum of two selections)
1) The vice presidential candidates, 2) Dukakis' liberal views, 3) He is my party's
candidate, 4) He cares about poor people, 5) I like him as a person, 6) Patriotic values, 7)
Jesse Jackson's role, 8) The debates, 9) Experience

201
ANALYSIS OF INDEPENDENT VARIABLES REGRESSED AS
DEPENDENT VARIABLE TO ASSESS MULTICOLLINEARITY
Data Set
Controlling
Variables
R2 of Model
with Dependent
Variable
Vote Choice
Independent
Variable Regressed
as Dependent
Variable
R2 of Regressed
Independent
Variable
ABC News
Democrats
.40
Abortion
.29
ABC News
Democrats
.40
Death Penalty
.29
ABC News
Democrats
.40
Health Care
34
ABC News
Democrats
.40
Environment
.37
ABC News
Democrats
.40
Education
.39
ABC News
Democrats
.40
College Costs
.31
ABC News
Democrats
.40
Drugs
.31
ABC News
Democrats
40
Social Security
.27
ABC News
Republicans
.32
Abortion
.24
ABC News
Republicans
.32
Death Penalty
.35
ABC News
Republicans
.32
Pledge of Allegiance
.27
ABC News
Republicans
.32
Prison Furloughs
.26
ABC News
Republicans
.32
Environment
.23
ABC News
Republicans
.32
Education
.28
ABC News
Republicans
.32
Drugs
.32
ABC News
Republicans
.32
Social Security
.24
ABC News
Republicans
.32
Health Care
.24
ABC News
Black Men
.38
Abortion
.27
ABC News
Black Men
.38
Death Penalty
.32
ABC News
Black Men
.38
Education
.37

202
Data Set
Controlling
Variables
R2 of Model
with Dependent
Variable
Vote Choice
Independent
Variable Regressed
as Dependent
Variable
R2 of Regressed
Independent
Variable
ABC News
Black Men
.38
College Costs
.35
ABC News
Black Men
.38
Health Care
.27
ABC News
Black Women
.30
Abortion
.26
ABC News
Black Women
.30
Death Penalty
.28
ABC News
Black Women
.30
ACLU
.29
ABC News
Black Women
.30
Pledge of Allegiance
.26
ABC News
Black Women
.30
Prison Furloughs
.24
ABC News
Black Women
30
College Costs
.29
ABC News
Black Women
.30
Education
.41
ABC News
Black Women
.30
Capital Gams Tax
.29
ABC News
Black Women
.30
Health Care
.34
ABC News
Black Women
.30
Environment
.27
ABC News
Black Women
.30
Drugs
.32
ABC News
Black Women
.30
Iran Contra Affair
.24
ABC News
Black Women
.30
Social Security
.34
CBS News
Democrats
.37
Experience
.13
CBS News
Black Men
.35
Experience
.16
CBS News
Black Women
.26
Experience
.08

203
ANALYSIS OF OCTOBER 8-10 CBS NEWS/NEW YORK TIMES SURVEY
The following model used data from the October 8-10 CBS News New York Times
survey (sample size of 1,518 cases) and was analyzed using the probit technique:
Y = a + 07 x¡ + 02 x2 +... 0/ x l where Y vote choice, xj = ACLU involvement,
X2 radical liberal, xj crime, xj prison furloughs, x$ = capital punishment, x^ = taxes,
xy - military defense spending arms control, xg = abortion, xq = the Pledge of Allegiance
The coding of the dependent variable is (1) for Michael Dukakis and (2) for
George Bush. Model independent variables are derived from open-ended responses to the
question, "Regardless of how you intend to vote, what worries you most about electing
Michael Dukakis as President in 1988°" The 51 coded categories to the responses
included the following (the symbolic "negative cluster" value-issues are bolded):
nothing; personal qualities; lack of trust/integrity; weak/not a leader; cannot deliver on
promises; panders; not qualified/lack of experience; background/New Englander;
performance as governor; war/peace; party/Democrat; Jackson connection; Bentsen;
ACLU involvement; environment; radical liberal; becoming conservative; repeat
of Reagan years; Congress; Supreme Court appointments; policies/issues; do not know
where he stands; moral issues; social programs; crime; prison furloughs; health plan;
elderly; capital punishment; poor people; economic policies; jobs; taxes; gun control;
budget/deficit/inflation; foreign policies; military/defense spending/arms control; gay
rights; big business; abortion; child-care; too attached to blacks/black issues; spending-
general big government; farmers; education; disregard for human rights; too much like
Jimmy Carter; tougher on drugs; Pledge of Allegiance; other; everything
The results of the probit analysis indicate that the radical liberal variable was the
only variable that achieved significance among all voters, Democrats, men and women,
and white men and women. The radical liberal variable did not achieve significance among
Independents or Republicans. Among Republicans the large standard error resulted in a
t-value approximately equal to zero. Results for Reagan Democrats and black men and
women are not included because the number of respondents was insufficient for proper
analysis to be conducted. The results for analyzed voting categories are as follows:
Independent
Variable
All
Voters
Democrats
Independents
Men
Women
White
Men
White
Women
Radical
Liberal
-.9497
.2906
(-3.268)
-1.1980
.4912
(-2.439)
-.9599
.5956
(-1.611)
-1.0130
.3945
(-2.568)
-.8660
.4362
(-1 985)
-.9118
.3956
(-2.305)
-1.1327
5349
(-2.118)
Sample
Size
N = 688*
Dukakis = 279
Bush = 409
N = 183*
Dukakis = 150
Bush = 33
N = 164*
Dukakis = 71
Bush = 93
N = 294*
Dukakis = 110
Bush = 184
N = 365 *
Dukakis = 161
Bush = 204
N = 269*
Dukakis = 91
Bush = 178
N = 332 *
Dukakis = 133
Bush = 199
Note: The statistical results were produced using the probit technique. The dependent variable is vote
choice; Michael Dukakis (1) or George Bush (2). The estimated probit coefficients and standard errors
precede t-values shown in parentheses; * p < .05 for N < 1.000

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
Shaun Patrick Richard Hemess received his undergraduate education at
Georgetown University, Washington, DC, where in May of 1986 he received a Bachelor
of Arts degree in American government. Mr. Herness began his graduate studies in 1989
when he enrolled at The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, where in May
of 1991 he received a Master of Arts degree in American politics. After completing his
studies at Catholic University, Mr. Herness entered The George Washington University,
Graduate School of Political Management, Washington, DC, where in July of 1993 he
received a Master of Arts degree in political management. President of Hemess and
Associates, a political consulting and campaign management firm, Mr. Hemess has
advised candidates on numerous state and local campaigns while pursuing his graduate
studies in both Washington, DC, and Gainesville, Florida. Mr. Hemess is a member of Pi
Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society.
214

I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
v»-*- / T
Walter A. Rosenbaum, Chairperson
Professor of Political Science
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
vv\ VI
If
Wayne fy. Fraricis
Professor of Political Science
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
YCv ^d-«-J
M. Margaret Conway J
Professor of Political Science
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
a
'James W. Button
Professor of Political Science
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
(I
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Michael D. Martinez
Associate Professor of Political Science
5T
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I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Ronald P. Formisano
Professor of History
This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the Department of
Political Science in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and to the Graduate School
and was accepted as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of
Philosophy.
May, 1996
Dean, Graduate School




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I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Ronald P. Formisano
Professor of History
This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the Department of
Political Science in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and to the Graduate School
and was accepted as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of
Philosophy.
May, 1996
Dean, Graduate School