The Psychology of Political Momentum

Patrick J. Kenney, Tom W. Rice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


In this article we examine the psychological processes that lead people to display bandwagon behavior. Next, we test these theories against the momentum that got rolling for George Bush in the 1988 presidential prenomination campaign. The NES Super Tuesday panel data from that year provide the necessary data. Our results suggest that individuals switched to Bush for a variety of reasons. Some got caught up in the excitement of the momentum and threw their support to the vice president uncritically. Others backed him because they liked the feeling of supporting the favorite Still others reluctantly switched to him even though they liked another can didate better because they felt Bush had the nomination locked up. Finally, some people joined in the momentum because they became convinced that Bush had the best chance of carrying the Republicans to victory in November.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)923-938
Number of pages16
JournalPolitical Research Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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