Exercise 9: Candidate Character Traits and the Presidential Vote
Another reason for using three-variable tables in our data analysis is to examine the joint influence of two independent variables on a dependent variable. To illustrate this situation, we can consider the influence of how perceptions of candidate personal characteristics influence the vote. Specifically, we can look at how voters perceived the leadership abilities of Obama and Romney.
To begin, you should generate frequency tables that show how voters perceived the leadership abilities of the two candidates (D01 and D07).
The next question is whether these perceptions of leadership ability are related to the vote. You should generate a table that shows how perceptions of Obama's leadership ability (D01) were related to the vote. For the reasons suggested in Exercise 1, you should use the recoded version of A02 that you created for that exercise, so that you examine only the major-party vote (i.e., only the Obama and Romney voters). After creating this table (Table 9C), create a similar table (Table 9D), using the same question about Romney's leadership abilities (D07).
Tables 9C and 9D each indicate that perceptions of both Obama's and Romney's leadership abilities were related to the vote. However, looking at each perception separately does not answer the most interesting question, which is what effect perceptions of differences between the candidates have on the vote. That is, some voters who thought that Obama was a strong leader may also have felt the same about Romney, in which case they did not see a difference between the candidates on this attribute. Other voters who thought that Obama was a strong leader may have felt that Romney was not, and this group clearly saw a difference between the candidates on this attribute. To examine the joint influence of D01 and D07 on the presidential vote, you should generate a three-variable table. In this case, it does not matter whether D01 is treated as the independent variable and D07 as the control variable or the reverse. In order to simplify the table, first recode D01 and D07.