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Open Journal of Political Science




This paper explores partisan and ideological differences in evaluations of a hypothetical candidate who repositions after a campaign (aka “flip-flopping”). This study uses a survey experiment with three randomized conditions and a sample of 1338 respondents. The analysis includes average treatment effects and results by 1) a respondent’s party identification and 2) a respondent’s preferred immigration policy position. I show that a candidate (without partisan or ideological labels) who repositions from a liberal immigration policy to the status quo conservative position is drastically penalized in terms of favorability, particularly by Democratic and liberal respondents. However, respondents who supported a conservative policy only modestly rewarded the candidate with higher favorability ratings for repositioning. Drastic differences also existed in ideological evaluations. Democratic and liberal respondents viewed the candidate as more conservative than respondents who are Republican or conservative. These results suggest that conservative respondents used the initial, liberal campaign position to form a strong prior when evaluating the candidate; whereas, liberal respondents were more sensitive to the conservative reposition.


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Publication of this article was supported by the 2022-23 Rowan University Libraries Open Access Publishing Fund.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.