Campaign effects in Korean presidential elections
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Do campaigns matter? To answer this intriguing question, this study examines the effects of presidential campaigns in Korean presidential elections. The main purpose of this study is to develop a theoretical framework to analyze campaign effects on vote choice in Korean presidential elections. This study attempts to apply two theories of American presidential campaigns, the “equilibrium” and “enlightenment” theories, to the Korean presidential electoral setting, and develop the models of campaign events in Korean presidential elections. This study argues that both presidential campaigns and the fundamental variables of the presidential election year influence vote choice in Korean presidential elections. The fundamental variables influence voters’ candidate preferences before the campaign begins and mainly determine the eventual vote choice. Meanwhile, fluctuations in vote intention during the campaign are primarily responsive to campaign events. An important role of campaign events is to assist voters to learn more about the fundamental variables to develop their enlightened preferences over the course of the campaign. The extent that voters are aware of the fundamental variables depends on how much campaign events make changes in information about the candidates during the campaign. It suggests that presidential campaigns play an important role in producing the eventual vote choice. As a result of the enlightenment, voters move toward their eventual vote decisions toward the end of the campaign.