Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter June 28, 2019

Change, Continuity and Partisan Sorting on Moral Issues

  • Joshua Ridenour

    Joshua Ridenour is a PhD candidates in the School of Government and Public Policy at the University of Arizona.

    EMAIL logo
    , Elizabeth Schmitt EMAIL logo and Barbara Norrander EMAIL logo
From the journal The Forum

Abstract

Is public opinion on moral issues basically stable or does it change over time? Evidence from the late 20th century indicated contrary patterns for public opinion on abortion, where attitudes were mostly stable, versus views toward gay rights, where public opinion was moving quickly in the liberal direction. This article examines whether public opinion trends on abortion and gay rights from the 20th century remain the same at the beginning of the 21st century. Second, we explore whether change or continuity better describes public attitudes on a host of moral issues. Finally, we investigate the contribution of partisan sorting to contemporary attitudes on moral issues.

About the author

Joshua Ridenour

Joshua Ridenour is a PhD candidates in the School of Government and Public Policy at the University of Arizona.

References

Abramowitz, Alan I. 1997. “The Cultural Divide in American Politics: Moral Issues and Presidential Voting.” In Understanding Public Opinion, edited by Barbara Norrander and Clyde Wilcox, 211–226. Washington, DC: CQ Press.Search in Google Scholar

Abramowitz, Alan. 2010. “Transformation and Polarization: The 2008 Presidential Election and the New American Electorate.” Electoral Studies 29: 594–603.10.1016/j.electstud.2010.04.006Search in Google Scholar

Abramowitz, Alan I., and Kyle L. Saunders. 2008. “Is Polarization a Myth?” Journal of Politics 70: 542–555.10.1017/S0022381608080493Search in Google Scholar

Achen, Christopher H., and Larry M. Bartels. 2016. Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.10.1515/9781400882731Search in Google Scholar

Adams, Greg D. 1997. “Abortion: Evidence of an Issue Evolution.” American Journal of Political Science 41: 718–737.10.2307/2111673Search in Google Scholar

Bafumi, Joseph, and Robert Y. Shapiro. 2009. “A New Partisan Voter.” Journal of Politics 71: 1–24.10.1017/S0022381608090014Search in Google Scholar

Baldassarri, Delia, and Andrew Gelman. 2008. “Partisans without Constraint: Political Polarization and Trends in American Public Opinion.” American Journal of Sociology 114: 408–446.10.1086/590649Search in Google Scholar

Brewer, Paul R. 2002. “Framing, Value Words, and Citizens’ Explanations of Their Issue Opinions.” Political Communication 19: 303–316.10.1080/01957470290055510Search in Google Scholar

Brewer, Paul R. 2003. “The Shifting Foundations of Public Opinion about Gay Rights.” The Journal of Politics 65: 1208–1220.10.1111/1468-2508.t01-1-00133Search in Google Scholar

Bull, Chris, and John Gallagher. 1996. Perfect Enemies: The Battle Between the Religious Right and the Gay Movement. Madison Books.Search in Google Scholar

Carmines, Edward G., and James A. Stimson. 1980. “The Two Faces of Issue Voting.” American Political Science Review 74: 78–91.10.2307/1955648Search in Google Scholar

Cook, Elizabeth Adell, Ted G. Jelen, and Clyde Wilcox. 1992. Between Two Absolutes: Public Opinion and the Politics of Abortion. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Search in Google Scholar

DiMaggio, Paul, John Evans, and Bethan Bryson. 1996. “Have Americans’ Social Attitudes Become More Polarized?” American Journal of Sociology 102: 690–755.10.1086/230995Search in Google Scholar

Fiorina, Morris P., Samuel J. Abrams, and Jeremy C. Pope. 2011. Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized American. 3rd ed. Boston: Longman.Search in Google Scholar

Haider-Markel, Donald P., and Kenneth J. Meier. 1996. “The Politics of Gay and Lesbian Rights: Expanding the Scope of the Conflict.” Journal of Politics 58: 332–350.10.2307/2960229Search in Google Scholar

Hetherington, Mark, and Jonathan Weiler. 2009. Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9780511802331Search in Google Scholar

Hetherington, Marc J., Meri T. Long, and Thomas J. Rudolph. 2016. “Revisiting the Myth: New Evidence of a Polarized Electorate.” Public Opinion Quarterly 80: 321–350.10.1093/poq/nfw003Search in Google Scholar

Hunter, James Davison. 1991. Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America. New York: Basic Books.Search in Google Scholar

Jewitt, Caitlin E., and Paul Goren. 2016. “Ideological Structure and Consistency in the Age of Polarization.” American Politics Quarterly 44: 81–105.10.1177/1532673X15574864Search in Google Scholar

Jones, Jeffrey M. 2015. “Majority in U.S. Now Say Gays and Lesbians Born, Not Made.” Gallup. Accessed May 20, 2015. https://news.gallup.com/poll/183332/majority-say-gays-lesbians-born-not-made.aspx.Search in Google Scholar

Keith, Bruce E., David B. Magleby, Candice J. Nelson, Elizabeth Orr, Mark C. Westlye, and Raymond E. Wolfinger. 1986. “The Partisan Affinities of Independent ‘Leaners.’” British Journal of Political Science 16: 155–185.10.1017/S0007123400003872Search in Google Scholar

Klar, Samara, and Yanna Krupnikov. 2016. Independent Politics: How American Disdain for Parties Leads to Political Inaction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9781316471050Search in Google Scholar

Kreitzer, Rebecca J. 2015. “Politics and Morality in State Abortion Policy.” State Politics & Policy Quarterly 15: 41–66.10.1177/1532440014561868Search in Google Scholar

Krimmel, Katherine, Jeffrey R. Lax, and Justin H. Phillips. 2016. “Gay Rights in Congress: Public Opinion and (Mis)representation.” Public Opinion Quarterly 80: 888–913.10.1093/poq/nfw026Search in Google Scholar

Lamba Legal. N.D. 2019. “In Your State.” Accessed March 11, 2019. https://www.lambdalegal.org/states-regions/in-your-state.Search in Google Scholar

Layman, Geoffrey C., and Thomas M. Carsey. 2002. “Party Polarization and ‘Conflict Extension’ in the American Electorate.” American Journal of Political Science 46: 786–802.10.2307/3088434Search in Google Scholar

Layman, Geoffrey C., and John C. Green. 2006. “Wars and Rumors of Wars: The Contexts of Cultural Conflict in American Political Behavior.” British Journal of Political Science 36: 61–89.10.1017/S0007123406000044Search in Google Scholar

Levendusky, Matthew. 2009. The Partisan Sort: How Liberals Became Democrats and Conservatives Became Republicans. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.10.7208/chicago/9780226473673.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Masci, David, Anna Brown, and Jocelyn Kiley. 2017. “5 Facts About Same-Sex Marriage.” Pew Research Center. Accessed June 26, 2017. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/06/26/same-sex-marriage/.Search in Google Scholar

Mason, Lilliana. 2015. “‘I Disrespectfully Agree’: The Differential Effects of Partisan Sorting on Social and Issue Polarization.” American Journal of Political Science 59: 128–145.10.1111/ajps.12089Search in Google Scholar

Medoff, Marshall H., and Christopher Dennis. 2011. “TRAP Abortion Laws and Partisan Party Control of State Government.” The American Journal of Economics and Sociology 70: 951–973.10.1111/j.1536-7150.2011.00794.xSearch in Google Scholar

Mooney, Christopher A. 2001. The Public Clash of Private Values: The Politics of Morality Policy. New York: Chatham House.Search in Google Scholar

Mooney, Christopher Z., and Mei-Hsien Lee. 1995. “Legislating Morality in the American States: The Case of Pre-Roe Abortion Regulation Reform.” American Journal of Political Science 39: 599–627.10.2307/2111646Search in Google Scholar

Norrander, Barbara, and Clyde Wilcox. 1999. “Public Opinion and Policymaking in the States: The Case of Post-Roe Abortion Policy.” Policy Studies Journal 27: 707–722.10.1111/j.1541-0072.1999.tb01998.xSearch in Google Scholar

Pan, Po-Lin, Juan Meng, and Shuhua Zhou. 2010. “Morality or Equality? Ideological Framing in News Coverage of Gay Marriage Legitimization.” The Social Science Journal 47: 630–645.10.1016/j.soscij.2010.02.002Search in Google Scholar

Pew Research Center. 2017. “Support for Same-Sex Marriage Grows, Even Among Groups That Had Been Skeptical.” Pew Research Center. Accessed June 26, 2017. http://www.people-press.org/2017/06/26/support-for-same-sex-marriage-grows-even-among-groups-that-had-been-skeptical/.Search in Google Scholar

Pew Research Center. 2018a. “Nearly Six-in-Ten Americans Say Abortion Should be Legal in All or Most Cases.” Pew Research Center. Accessed October 17, 2018. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/10/17/nearly-six-in-ten-americans-say-abortion-should-be-legal/.Search in Google Scholar

Pew Research Center. 2018b. “U.S. Public Opinion on Legalizing Marijuana, 1969–2017.” Pew Research Center. Accessed January 5, 2018. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/10/08/americans-support-marijuana-legalization/ft_18-01-05_marijuana_line_update/.Search in Google Scholar

Rimmerman, Craig, Kenneth Wald, and Clyde Wilcox. 2000. The Politics of Gay Rights. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Search in Google Scholar

Rogers, Steven. 2017. “Electoral Accountability for State Legislative Roll Calls and Ideological Representation.” American Political Science Review 111: 555–571.10.1017/S0003055417000156Search in Google Scholar

Skipworth, Sue Ann, Andrew Garner, and Bryan J. Dettrey. 2010. “Limitations of the Contact Hypothesis: Heterogeneity in the Contact Effect on Attitudes toward Gay Rights.” Politics & Policy 38: 887–906.10.1111/j.1747-1346.2010.00262.xSearch in Google Scholar

Smith, Tom, Michael Davern, Jeremy Freese, and Michael Hout. 2018. General Social Surveys, 1972–2016 [machine-readable data file]. Principal Investigator, Tom W. Smith; Co-Principal Investigators Peter V. Marsden and Michael Hout. Sponsored by National Science Foundation – NORC ed. – Chicago: NORC, 2018: NORC at the University of Chicago [producer and distributor].Search in Google Scholar

Stimson, James A. 1999. Public Opinion in America: Moods, Cycles, and Swings. 2nd ed. Boulder, CO: Westview.Search in Google Scholar

Stonecash, Jeffrey M., Mark D. Brewer, and Mack D. Mariani. 2003. Diverging Parties: Social Change, Realignment, and Party Polarization. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Search in Google Scholar

Wilcox, Clyde, and Barbara Norrander. 2002. “Of Moods and Morals: The Dynamics of Opinion on Abortion and Gay Rights.” In Understanding Public Opinion, 2nd ed., edited by Barbara Norrander and Clyde Wilcox, 121–148. Washington, DC: CQ Press.Search in Google Scholar

Wlezien, Christopher. 1995. “The Public as Thermostat: Dynamics of Preferences for Spending.” American Journal of Political Science 39: 981–1000.10.2307/2111666Search in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2019-06-28

©2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

Downloaded on 8.2.2023 from https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/for-2019-0008/html
Scroll Up Arrow