Monday, October 7, 2013

Finally Figuring It Out

After devoting a hundred or so hours to reading, writing, and extensive data analysis, I finally sat down with a legal pad and drew out my research project. You know, little boxes and arrows, that sort of thing. So simple, yet so very helpful. I now know, finally, what the hell I'm doing. Warning, this is a bit PhDweeby.

Very simply:

  1. The preference for a presidential candidate will make one more likely to predict that candidate will win.
  2. In 2012 among Romney supporters, watching Fox News will increase this wishful thinking effect.
  3. We end up with expected losers (Romney supporters who expected Obama to win) and surprised losers (those Romney folks who expected their guy to pull it out).
  4. Surprised losers will be more negative about government, democracy and the election than expected losers and, of course, winners.
  5. Watching Fox News will, for surprised losers, result in even more negative attitudes about democracy and the electoral process as compared to expected losers.
I've written about the theoretical underpinnings of this research already so I won't bore you here, other than to say it draws from selective exposure, from the wishful thinking literature and from lots of work about how democracy rests in the hands of the losers. Here, I'm expanding the losers to look at those surprised by the results to see if that adds anything to that body of work.

It takes me a while to finally figure out what I'm doing. Some would suggest I still haven't gotten there yet. And they're probably right.

Oh as to results, so far the data are holding up nicely. Surprised losers are a bit different than expected losers, suggesting more work deserves to be done there, and there is most definitely a Fox News exposure effect at work making surprised losers more negative about democracy and the electoral process as compared to those who expected to lose.

This is the 2013 portion of my study, a very specific manuscript. I'm also doing one that expands this across several elections, but I want to get the 2013 version out the door first before turning to that bigger piece.

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