Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

The Forum

A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics

Ed. by Disalvo, Daniel / Stonecash, Jeffrey


IMPACT FACTOR 2018: 0.500
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 0.623

CiteScore 2018: 0.83

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.595
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.631

Online
ISSN
1540-8884
See all formats and pricing
More options …
Volume 16, Issue 1

Issues

Who is Ideological? Measuring Ideological Consistency in the American Public

Michael Barber / Jeremy C. Pope
Published Online: 2018-06-09 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/for-2018-0007

Abstract

Political constraint and issue consistency are key variables in the study of public opinion, but the existing literature contains many parallel but contradictory accounts of the sources and predictors of ideological constraint. Some posit that constraint is essentially a function of a person’s partisan commitment, others suggest it is rooted in participation in politics, while others see a wide range of correlates summarized as “sophistication.” Still others deny that constraint exists in the mass public altogether. Contrary to these accounts, we argue that issue consistency exists within the American public and is best predicted by political knowledge, which should be thought of as separate from those other predictors. In fact, after accounting for political knowledge, other variables like partisanship, participation, and demographic variables have little independent relationship to ideological constraint. The data show that political knowledge is about as strong a predictor of issue consistency as is one’s self-placed ideology – a widely used proxy for constraint. These results help us understand how citizens think about politics and which groups of people most closely resemble elites in the structure of their opinions. Our findings show that previously hypothesized predictors of constraint – particularly partisanship and participation – are mainly related to ideological constraint through a person’s level of political knowledge.

This article offers supplementary material which is provided at the end of the article.

References

  • Abramowitz, Alan I. 2012. The Disappearing Center: Engaged Citizens, Polarization, American Democracy. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar

  • Abramowitz, Alan I. 2013. The Polarized Public? Why American Government Is So Dysfunctional. New York, NY: Pearson.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.Google Scholar

  • Ahler, Douglas J., and David E. Broockman. 2016. “Does Elite Polarization Imply Poor Representation? A New Perspective on the “Disconnect” Between Politicians and Voters.” Working Paper: https://people.stanford.edu/dbroock/sites/default/files/ahler_broockman_ideological_innocence.pdf.

  • Ansolabehere, Stephen, Jonathan Rodden, and James M. Snyder. 2008. “The Strength of Issues: Using Multiple Measures to Gauge Preference Stability, Ideological Constraint, and Issue Voting.” American Political Science Review 102 (2): 215–232.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Bafumi, Joseph, and Michael Herron. 2010. “Leapfrog Representation and Extremism: A Study of American Voters and their Members in Congress.” American Political Science Review 104 (3): 519–542.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Baldassarri, Delia, and Andrew Gelman. 2008. “Partisans without Constraint: Political Polarization and Trends in American Public Opinion.” American Journal of Sociology 114 (2): 408–446.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Bartels, Larry M. 2000. “Partisanship and Voting Behavior, 1952–1996.” American Journal of Political Science 44 (1): 35–50.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Bartels, Larry M. 2008. “The Irrational Electorate.” Wilson Quarterly 32 (4): 44–50.Google Scholar

  • Bauer, Paul C., Pablo Barberá, Kathrin Ackermann, and Aaron Venetz. 2016. “Is the Left-Right Scale a Valid Measure of Ideology?” Political Behavior 39 (3): 553–583.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Bishop, Bill. 2009. The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded American is Tearing us Apart. Wilmington, MA: Mariner Books.Google Scholar

  • Broockman, David E. 2016. “Approaches to Studying Policy Representation.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 41 (1): 181–215.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Campbell, James E. 2016. Polarized: Making Sense of a Divided America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar

  • Campbell, James E., and Carl M. Cannon. 2006. “Polarization Runs Deep, Even by Yesterday’s Standards.” Red and Blue Nation? Characteristics and Causes of America’s Polarized Politics 1: 72–85.Google Scholar

  • Clinton, Joshua, Simon Jackman, and Doug Rivers. 2004. “The Statistical Analysis of Roll Call Data.” American Political Science Review 98 (2): 355–370.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Converse, Philip. 1964. “The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics.” In Ideology and Its Discontents, edited by David E. Apter, 1–74. New York: The Free Press of Glencoe.Google Scholar

  • Ellis, Christopher, and James A. Stimson. 2012. Ideology in America. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Freeder, Sean, Gabriel S. Lenz, and Shad Turney. 2016. “The Importance of Knowing ‘What Goes With What’.” Working Paper. Available at: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/8e58/9ba838570ce50369 dd078ce239f1bde1d010.pdf.

  • Grossmann, Matt, and David A. Hopkins. 2015. “Ideological Republicans and Group Interest Democrats: The Asymmetry of American Party Politics.” Perspectives on Politics 13 (1): 119–139.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Grossmann, Matt, and David A. Hopkins. 2016. Asymmetric Politics: Ideological Republicans and Group Interest Democrats. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Hacker, Jacob S., and Paul Pierson. 2014. “After the “Master Theory”: Downs, Schattschneider, and the Rebirth of Policy-Focused Analysis.” Perspectives on Politics 12 (3): 643–662.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Hetherington, Marc J. 2001. “Resurgent Mass Partisanship: The Role of Elite Polarization.” The American Political Science Review 95 (3): 619–631.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Hill, Seth J. 2015. “Institution of Nomination and the Policy Ideology of Primary Electorates.” Quarterly Journal of Political Science 10 (4): 461–487.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Iyengar, Shanto, Gaurav Sood, and Yphtach Lelkes. 2012. “Affect, Not IdeologyA Social Identity Perspective on Polarization.” Public Opinion Quarterly 76 (3): 405–431.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Jacobson, Gary. 2012. “The Electoral Origins of Polarized Politics: Evidence From the 2010 Cooperative Congressional Election Study.” American Behavioral Scientist 56 (12): 1612–1630.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Jacoby, William G. 1995. “The Structure of Ideological Thinking in the American Electorate.” American Journal of Political Science 39: 314–335.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Jennings, M. Kent. 1992. “Ideological Thinking among Mass Publics and Political Elites.” Public Opinion Quarterly 56 (4): 419–441.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Jessee, Stephen A. 2009. “Spatial Voting in the 2004 Presidential Election.” American Political Science Review 103 (1): 59–81.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Kinder, Donald, and Nathan Kalmoe. 2017. Neither Liberal Nor Conservative: Ideological Innocence in the American Public. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar

  • Klein, Ezra. 2014. “The Single Most Important Fact about American Politics.” URL: http://www.vox.com/2014/6/13/5803768/pew-most-important-fact-american-politics.

  • Knight, Kathleen. 1985. “Ideology in the 1980 Election: Ideological Sophistication Does Matter.” The Journal of Politics 47 (3): 828–853.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Lane, Robert E. 1962. Political Ideology: Why the American Common Man Believes What He Does. New York, NY: The Free Press.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 (4): 786–802.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Layman, Geoffrey C., Thomas M. Carsey, and Juliana Menasce Horowitz. 2006. “Party Polarization in American Politics: Characteristics, Causes, and Consequences.” Annual Review of Political Science 9: 83–110.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Lenz, Gabriel S. 2012. Follow the Leader? How Voters Respond to Politicians’ Policies and Performance. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar

  • Lewis, Jeffrey B., and Chris Tausanovitch. 2015. When Does Joint Scaling Allow For Direct Comparisons of Preferences. In Conference on Ideal Point Models, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, May. Vol. 1.

  • Lupton, Robert N., William N. Myers, and Judd R. Thornton. 2015. “Political Sophistication and the Dimensionality of Elite and Mass Attitudes, 1980–2004.” Journal of Politics 77 (2): 368–380.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Luskin, Robert C. 1990. “Explaining Political Sophistication.” Political Behavior 12 (4): 331–361.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Mann, Thomas E., and Norman J. Ornstein. 2012. It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism. New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar

  • McCarty, Nolan, Keith Poole, and Howard Rosenthal. 2006. Polarized America: The Dance of Ideology and Unequal Riches. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar

  • McGhee, Eric, Seth Masket, Boris Shor, Steven Rogers, and Nolan McCarty. 2014. “A Primary Cause of Partisanship? Nomination Systems and Legislator Ideology.” American Journal of Political Science 58 (2): 337–351.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Noel, Hans. 2013. Political Ideologies and Political Parties in America. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Peress, Michael. 2013. “Candidate Positioning and Responsiveness to Constituent Opinion in the US House of Representatives.” Public Choice 156 (1–2): 77–94.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Sniderman, Paul M., and Edward H. Stiglitz. 2012. The Reputational Premium: A Theory of Party Identification and Policy Reasoning. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar

  • Stimson, James A. 1975. “Belief Systems: Constraint, Complexity, and the 1972 Election.” American Journal of Political Science 19 (3): 393–417.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

About the article

Published Online: 2018-06-09


Citation Information: The Forum, Volume 16, Issue 1, Pages 97–122, ISSN (Online) 1540-8884, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/for-2018-0007.

Export Citation

©2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

Supplementary Article Materials

Citing Articles

Here you can find all Crossref-listed publications in which this article is cited. If you would like to receive automatic email messages as soon as this article is cited in other publications, simply activate the “Citation Alert” on the top of this page.

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in