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The Politics of Competence
Parties, Public Opinion and Voters

$24.99 (C)

  • Date Published: April 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316610558

$ 24.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • Using decades of public opinion data from the US, UK, Australia, Germany and Canada, and distinguishing between three concepts - issue ownership, performance and generalised competence - Green and Jennings show how political parties come to gain or lose 'ownership' of issues, how they are judged on their performance in government across policy issues and how they develop a reputation for competence (or incompetence) over a period in office. Their analysis tracks the major events causing people to re-evaluate party reputations and the costs of governing which cause electorates to punish parties in power. They reveal why, when and how these movements in public opinion matter to elections. The implications are important for long-standing debates about performance and partisanship, and reveal that public opinion about party and governing competence is, to a great extent, the product of major shocks and predictable dynamics.

    • Reveals long-term trends in public opinion about party competence across countries, what causes shifts in these opinions and how they matter for parties, public opinion and voting
    • Offers a response to the 'valence' literature, the issue ownership literature and studies of policy performance and elections
    • Provides a comparative and over-time approach, extending understanding beyond studies of single countries or elections and illuminating dynamics in two countries in depth; the US and UK, and with analysis of Canada, Australia and Germany
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    Reviews & endorsements

    ‘The Politics of Competence provides a compelling analysis of party competence – its causes, electoral consequences and political significance. This landmark study draws together disparate theories, assembles a prodigious amount of data and uses advanced statistical techniques to provide a fascinating account of the shifting relationship between parties and their electorates. Sophisticated, yet also accessible to the general reader, this book instantly becomes the gold standard in studies of party competence.' John Bartle, University of Essex

    ‘Central to theories of how voters evaluate parties are ideas that one party is better able than another to handle a given issue. But how do voters develop these evaluations? And what is the role of actual performance of a party in government? In this theoretically ambitious, empirically rich and truly comparative book, Green and Jennings break new ground. They show that parties regularly gain and lose ‘ownership' on particular issues, that partisanship strongly affects perceptions of performance, that governments inexorably lose support and reputations for competence, and that they develop a new theoretical perspective towards how voters evaluate parties. Rich with data, comparative in approach and equally theoretical as empirical, this book sets a new standard in the fields of issue ownership on a par with previous works by Donald Stokes, John Petrocik and William Riker.' Frank R. Baumgartner, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and co-author of The Politics of Information (2015)

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2018
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316610558
    • length: 327 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 153 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.49kg
    • contains: 67 b/w illus. 62 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Conceptual problems, and solutions
    3. Three concepts of issue competence
    4. Explaining issue ownership change
    5. Performance of governments, and oppositions
    6. Generic competence and costs of governing
    7. Combined effects of ownership, performance and generic competence
    8. Conclusion

  • Authors

    Jane Green, University of Manchester
    Jane Green is Professor of Political Science at the University of Manchester and a Co-Director of the British Election Study, the UK's leading source of election data since 1964.

    Will Jennings, University of Southampton
    Will Jennings is Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at the University of Southampton.

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