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Published in: Society 6/2020

01-12-2020 | Symposium – The State of American Politics

The Coup de Grâce to the Sanders Campaign: Michigan, Momentum & Viability

Authors: Dino P. Christenson, Corwin D. Smidt

Published in: Society | Issue 6/2020

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Abstract

We illuminate the dynamics of primary campaigns by looking at how individuals changed their candidate support, favorability and viability within a crucial state in the 2020 primary. Via a multi-wave survey of likely primary voters in Michigan, we show that Joe Biden’s comeback win was due primarily to the change in perception of his viability following South Carolina and Super Tuesday, especially among the more moderate portion of the Democratic electorate. In subsequent county-level analyses we find that the difference between Bernie Sanders’s win in 2016 and loss in 2020 was more a function of changes in the Democratic primary electorate than in his appeal. Our work suggests that gains in viability do not benefit all candidates equally. Moreover, viability can be generated later in the schedule than previously thought and to decisive ends. We consider the implications of our findings for understanding Michigan’s outcome in November.
Footnotes
2
Norrander (1996) provides a discussion of the different definitions and measures of momentum and related concepts.
 
3
Though the findings of Mayer (1996) suggest that the effects of momentum may be exaggerated.
 
4
The literature has even distinguished concerns over viability in the primary from electability in the general (Abramowitz 1989; Abramson et al. 1992; Mutz 1995). For instance, Abramowitz (1989) argues that viability affects vote choice through perceptions of electability.
 
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Metadata
Title
The Coup de Grâce to the Sanders Campaign: Michigan, Momentum & Viability
Authors
Dino P. Christenson
Corwin D. Smidt
Publication date
01-12-2020
Publisher
Springer US
Published in
Society / Issue 6/2020
Print ISSN: 0147-2011
Electronic ISSN: 1936-4725
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s12115-020-00548-6