Continuing with my agenda-setting research stream, I decided to look at the GOP primaries this year, and more specifically the issue of ideology. In what was a heated campaign, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney debated back and forth. Who was the true conservative? Newt Gingrich was on the attack, he was quoted in numerous newspapers calling Romney a “Massachusetts Moderate.”
What didn’t occur to Gingrich was the fact that many undecided Republicans didn’t think a more moderate orientation was such a bad thing. In this paper, I show that Gingrich’s message permeated newspapers, and then trickled to the public. This is yet another validation of the agenda-setting hypothesis.
As it did, Romney gained more moderate and liberally inclined supporters. The unintended effect may have been one of the key reasons Gingrich’s campaign was unsuccessful. Here’s the presentation I gave. If you’re interested in the full paper, download it here.