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UCD Political Science alumni featured in The Journal of Politics

Beth Simas (UCD Ph.D. 2011, Associate Professor at University of Houston) and John Barry Ryan (UCD Ph.D. 2009, Associate Professor at Stony Brook University) have published "Ambiguous Rhetoric and Legislative Accountability" in The Journal of Politics. 

Ambiguous Rhetoric and Legislative Accountability

Work on candidate positioning suggests that ambiguous statements help candidates by broadening their appeal and providing leeway to take different positions once in office. While experimental research has explored the electoral effects posited by the first, empirical testing of the second is lacking. As such, we use two original survey experiments (a national sample and a convenience sample) to show that contrary to conventional wisdom, ambiguity may not shield a legislator from the backlash that comes from eventually taking a position with which voters disagree. In addition, we find that a candidate’s rhetorical strategy matters most for social and cultural issues that represent core beliefs and values. In sum, our work makes important advances in the study of the longer-term effects of campaign rhetoric and suggests that if an issue cannot be avoided, there may be little to gain from attempting to obscure one’s intended position.