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Stapel and Schwarz: The Republican who did not want to become president

Disclaimer. Don't rely on these old notes in lieu of reading the literature, but they can jog your memory. As a grad student long ago, my peers and I collaborated to write and exchange summaries of political science research. I posted them to a wiki-style website. "Wikisum" is now dead but archived here. I cannot vouch for these notes' accuracy, nor can I say who wrote them.

Stapel and Schwarz. 1998. The Republican who did not want to become president. PSPB 24 (7).


Colin Powell, who was immmensely popular among both Democrats and Republicans at the time, made two simultaneous decisions in 1996: Not to run in the Republican primary, and to join the Republican party. The public could view this one of two ways: Powell distanced himself from the party, or he attached himself to it. Depending on how they view it, their evaluations of the party might go up or down. These evaluations may also influence their evaluations of Bob Dole.

Implication: The media and spin could determine which way we think about Powell's decision, and therefore influence our evaluations of Republicans and of Dole.


An include/exclude model.



A survey design using six groups of college kids. Factor one: Powell's decision (three groups). Factor two: question order (two groups).

  1. Prime survey respondents by telling them only one half of Powell's decision (or, for control, neither half)
  2. Ask what they think about Republicans (or, in the other group, Dole)
  3. Ask what they think about Dole (or, in the other group, Republicans)

Specific Hypotheses

  1. Knowing Powell joined will boost evalutions of Republicans; knowing he refuses to run will hurt them.
  2. Contrasting Powell as a Republican with Dole hurts Dole (no matter which half of Powell's decision you give)
  3. With Powell's "inclusion" decision, the effects on Republicans (positive) and on Dole (negative) cancel out in the end.
  4. With Powell's "exclusion" decision, the effects on Republicans (negative) and Dole (negative) reinforce one another.

Research on similar subjects


Stapel, Diederik (author)Schwarz, Norbert (author)American PoliticsVotingPartisanshipPerceptionPublic OpinionMedia Effects

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