This study tests issue ownership theory on U.S. Senate debates. Issue ownership theory states that each of the two major American parties possess issues which the public perceive to be best handled by one party over another. Republicans are thought to be better at handling problems concerning national defense, foreign policy, and taxes. Democrats are believed to be better at addressing issues such as education, health care, and the environment. This study hypothesizes that, due to unique characteristics regarding the office being sought, U.S. Senate candidates from both major parties do not adhere to previously recognized patterns of issue ownership and more frequently discuss Democratic issues over Republican issues. The results of content analytic programing provided supporting evidence for this hypothesis. Based on this analysis, the extent to which issue ownership applies to debates is dependent upon the position being sought.
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Davis, John C.
"A New Test of Issue Ownership Theory: U.S. Senate Campaign Debates,"
Speaker & Gavel: Vol. 53
, Article 2.
Available at: https://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/speaker-gavel/vol53/iss2/2