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Religion and Political Theory: Secularism, Accommodation and The New Challenges of Religious Diversity, Edited by Jonathan Seglow and Andrew Shorten

Election Pledge Rhetoric: Selling Policy with Words

Elections
 
Elites
 
Party Manifestos
 
Political Competition
 
Political Psychology
 
Voting
 
Campaign
 
Presenter
Elina Lindgren
University of Gothenburg
Authors
Elina Lindgren
University of Gothenburg
Elin Naurin
University of Gothenburg

Abstract
In election campaigns, parties need to induce enthusiasm towards promises in order to gain support. Previous research on campaign rhetoric shows that different types of rhetoric, such as framing and cuing, influence attitudes to election pledges. However, there is less knowledge about what exactly it is that makes certain formulations effective. Using a theoretical framework with notions from linguistic semantics, we propose and test whether persuasive words that are neutral to left-right values and vague enough to be interpreted differently, can increase support for polices by appealing to a broader audience than ideological value-laden words often do. Using a web-based survey experiment involving 1200 Swedish citizens, we show that persuasive words increase support for both a “typical” Swedish policy, and a more controversial pledge. Effects are found for individuals with and individuals without prior negative attitudes towards the policy, as well as for individuals of different ideological pre-dispositions.
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