Does Ideology Matter?*

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This study revisits the idea that the American public is moderate or nonideological. In this longstanding view, only informed elites maintain consistent ideologies that constrain their political attitudes and behaviors; the mass public is driven instead by partisan identities that they are socialized into. The study explores whether the public's liberal-to-conservative self-placement is temporally stable, and whether it is predictive of political attitudes when pit against partisanship. Methods: The study examines data from the 2010 American National Election Survey and the 2008–2012 General Social Survey longitudinal panel. Results: The American public today maintains coherent and consistent ideologies that systematically divide them in their sociopolitical attitudes and policy preferences. Conclusion: While partisanship is a powerful top-down driver of the American public's attitudes and policy preferences toward overtly partisan issues and behaviors like Obamacare and voting, on broader sociopolitical issues like abortion, ideology is a powerful bottom-up driver of attitudes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-143
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number1
Early online date20 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


Dive into the research topics of 'Does Ideology Matter?*'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this