Making their mark: Leader brands and their Influence on Political Behavior Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Carty, Emily
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Political Science
  • What is it that makes some leaders so successful in attracting followers? Some are so effective in capturing the public's loyalty that they can win unexpected electoral victories, create new parties around themselves, and, in extreme cases, some leaders even reach legendary status. Groups of loyal followers form around these leaders, willing to sacrifice their time, effort, money, and whatever else they can to support the leader and their group. Likewise, groups of loyal opponents also form around some leaders, willing to do whatever it takes to remove them from power. Drawing on consumer and social psychology, my dissertation takes a new approach to the effect of leaders' traits on political outcomes by introducing the concepts leader brands and brand identification. By examining the content and diversity of leader brands and how they affect citizens' attitudes, identities, and behaviors in three different countries, I provide an innovative framework to better understand the relationship between political leaders and citizens. In the first chapter of this dissertation, I outline my theory of leader brands and their role in political behavior, case selection, and potential research extensions. In the second chapter of my dissertation, my co-author and I explore the factors explaining why conservatives in the United States form an attachment to Donald Trump's brand in the 2016 election and the behavioral effects of that attachment. The third chapter uses data collected on the 2015 Argentinean election to show that both anti- and pro- leader brands can attract and mobilize supporters when challengers incorporate anti-incumbent sentiments into their own brand. Finally, the last chapter presented in my dissertation uses the case of Spain to demonstrate that even in party-centric contexts, how individuals evaluate leaders' personal characteristics and the extent to which they form an attachment to a leader's brand has a significant influence on their vote choice.
Date of publication
Resource type
  • Baumgartner, Frank
  • Conover, Pamela
  • Maxwell, Rahsaan
  • Zechmeister, Elizabeth
  • Robertson, Graeme
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2018

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