Valence issue

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A valence issue is a political issue about which voters will usually share a common preference.

Prosperity is a common valence issue. All voters will want their community to prosper and so the consideration is not whether to seek prosperity or not but instead the issue is which party is most likely to deliver it. Further examples include the desire for high economic growth, low inflation, low unemployment, a strong national defense, high quality education and healthcare, sufficient housing and adequate transport infrastructure.

Valence issues may be contrasted with position issues — divisive issues for which there are different preferences. In a study of campaigns for the US Senate, candidates focused upon valence issues in 77% of their advertising. The issues identified as positional or valence were:[1]

In the United States, valence issues may include campaign finance reform, care of the elderly, crime, daycare, economy, education, inflation, and jobs. To contrast, position issues in the United States include abortion, civil rights, congressional pay, death penalty, drugs, foreign aid, the environment, gun control, healthcare, nuclear proliferation, school prayer, taxes, and term limits. Some of these may be seen differently in other countries.


  1. ^ Kim Fridkin; Kim Fridkin Kahn; Patrick J. Kenney (1999), Spectacle of United States Senate Campaigns, Princeton University Press, pp. 67–70, ISBN 9780691005058