Research event

Effective electoral competition through selective issue emphasis

A presentation by Petra Schleiter (University of Oxford, St Hilda’s College and University College London). This event is part of the Political Economy Lunch Seminar (PELS).

Petra Schleiter is Professor of Comparative Politics in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford, Tutorial Fellow of St Hilda’s College, and Constitution Unit Fellow at University College London.

Event summary

Selective issue emphasis is a key strategy to win electoral support in political campaigns. However, while numerous studies have focused on explaining why certain issues are selected, we know surprisingly little about which issue selection is electorally most successful. We argue and provide causal evidence that emphasizing policy issues on which political parties have competency advantages over their competitors is more successful than highlighting issues that are salient among voters in electoral campaigns. We evaluate our expectations using a realistic panel survey experiment with high external validity during the German Federal Election in 2021. Our results show that a competency-based issue campaign increases support, while a campaign highlighting salient issues is not successful.