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501 Readings Week 3

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Bibliographic Information: Campbell, A., Converse, P.E., Miller, W.E., and D.E. Stokes (1960). “Chapter 8: Public Policy and Political Preference” in The American Voter Unabridged Edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Purpose: Voters in the American system receive ideological cues from elites. Hence, public policy is a valuable avenue of study to see the affect on the political behavior of citizens. “The substance of partisan debate forms one of the most valuable aspects of the political context in which voting decisions are made. For this reason, we have conceived of issues as one of the major classes of partisan objects, and have included issue perceptions explicitly among our six partisan attitudes. A ‘proper’ issue position taken by the candidate or party is a major source of favorable evaluation” (168-9). Additionally, “Party loyalty plays no small role in the formation of attitudes on specific policy matters. The identifier who sees his party take up a new issue is likely to be influenced thereby” (169)

Supporting evidence:

Three conditions must be met in order for a policy issue to have bearing upon their vote decision. Those three conditions are: 1) Cognition of the issue; 2) A minimal intensity of feeling must be aroused in the voter; and 3) One party will better represent the voters interests and position better than the other party does (170). However, the three conditions are necessary, not sufficient. Thus, these three conditions are not the ‘end all be all’ of issues affecting an individual’s decisions to vote on an issue, or how they will subsequently vote (171). Each of the three conditions are explicated below.

Issue familiarity (cognition of the issue): “From the viewpoint of social action, the problem of creating familiarity with issues is the first task; from the view point of social analysis, understanding the evolution of public familiarity with issues is also a necessary step of beginning step” (170). Familiarity of an issue is a relative degree, in that multiple views on an issue are present, but not all views are taken into account. Thus “relative differences in the proportion of people having an opinion on various issues may be taken to reflect differences in familiarity with the issues” (173). The specificity of an issue, likewise, is not the only determinate of familiarity. “relatively specific programs of social welfare that have been under debate for some time appear more familiar to the public” (175)

Intensity of feeling: “The second condition requires that there be some sense of the importance of an issue, for involvement cannot be assumed on the basis of familiarity alone” (170). The intensity of feeling on an issue is dependent on the importance of values involved (177). Hence, “the intensity of the opposition will depend on how much more important Y is than X; that is, it will depend on the discrepancy in importance of the values which are in conflict” (178)

Partisan representation: “Intense feelings about an issue must be translated into a partisan motivation, and this process can only be completed if the individual has some sense that the parties will handle things differently. In short, he must perceive that the political system offers alternatives, and he must be able to determine which of them matches his own position most closely” (170). Hence, “It follows from our prior discussions that the strong partisan who lacks any real information permitting him to locate either party on a question of policy may find it relatively easy to presume that his chosen party is closer to his own belief regarding that policy than is the opposition. The fact that only a minority of the population seems concerned as to party position on any specific issue indicates that much of the opinion formation that goes on in the electorate occurs independent of party cues” (186)

Conclusions: “It is important for our understanding of the political system that we attain some grasp of the level at which issue concerns affect mass participation in politics. If most of the policy items discussed in this chapter are so specific in character that only a small portion of the electorate can respond meaningfully to them, this is in itself an important fact” (187)

Bibliographic Information: Campbell, A., Converse, P.E., Miller, W.E., and D.E. Stokes (1960). “Chapter 9: Attitude Structure and the Problem of Ideology” in The American Voter Unabridged Edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Purpose: “This suggestion, like the preceding, directs our attention to the clusters or ‘structures’ of attitudes involving political issues. We shall scan our data of evidence of this attitude structure, first at the level of specific policy matters considered in the preceding chapter and subsequently at a more abstract level of generalized political value. Since our several modes of procedure reflect some widely held presumptions as to what ‘attitude structure’ is, it is important to make these notions clear at the onset” (189)

Supporting evidence: Attitude structures occur “when two or more beliefs or opinions held by an individual are in some way or another functionally related” (189). That is to say, an attitude structure (or cluster) may be found when they are “functionally related, inasmuch as there seems to be interdependence between each opinion” (190).

Ideology serves as a major area of concern in the ordering of structures. First “any congnitive structure that subsumes content of wide scope and diversity must be capped by concepts of a high order of abstraction” (193). Second, “if ideology supplies a manageable number of ordering dimensions that permit the person to make sense of a broad range of events, the political analyst is delighted to capitalize upon this fact” (193). In as much, the traditional liberal-conservative dichotomy creates a series of shortcoming. “The fact of a liberal or conservative position does not in itself describe an attitude toward the extent of government activity within a given area” (194); and “thus while the liberal-conservative controversy centers on the extent of government activity, the nature of the advocacy that is called liberal or conservative come to depend, within the immediate context, upon what is and what is hoped for” (194).

When parlayed into partisanship, the results are as follows. “Differences between adherents of the two parties are sharpest among the most highly involved; where involvement is low, there is no significant variation in social welfare attitude by party. Thus we conclude that one important factor in the choice of a party that is ‘wrong’ in the view of the individual’s social welfare attitudes and status location is simple indifference and the lack of information thereby implied” (208)


Jacoby, W.C. (1995). “The Structure of Ideological Thinking in the American Electorate” in American Journal of Political Science, vol. 39, no.2

Purpose: To understand the distribution and influence of liberal-conservative ideology within the American electorate.

Results: “Systematic differences in the ideological content of political stimuli; much temporal stability, along with changes in the structure of ideological thinking; and factors that affect individual placements along the cumulative dimension within each year” (314)

Important factors and information within the article:

Ideology is not a simple dichotomy of liberal/conservative, in which all political stimuli are viewed as such. Rather, ideology rests on a continuum in which individuals apply political stimuli differently (314).

Previous attempts at explaining political ideology suggest the “nature of a political stimuli affects the extent to which citizens apply liberal-conservative ideas to that stimulus” (316). Should that be true, then, “variability in the ideological content of political stimuli and judgments is a distinct phenomenon from variability in individual levels of political sophistication and ideological awareness” (316)

The Mokken scaling analysis used by Jacoby suggests that “By any reasonable standard, variability in ideologically consistent political judgments corresponds closely to the hypothesized cumulative structure” (318)

Additionally, “A person who can specify a definition for liberal-conservative labels (or one who can identify the Republican party as more conservative) is neither more nor less likely to manifest other kinds of ideologically consistent judgments” (320)

Two other points are key in the analysis. First, “many individuals apparently can place the parties and candidates along the liberal-conservative continuum, but still fail to orient their own attitudes and behaviors along the same lines” (322). Second, “liberals and conservatives do not serve as objects of personal attachment for most of the public. Very few people report feeling close to the ideological group with which they identify” (322)

Bibliographic information: Sullivan, J.L., Pierson, J.E., and G.E. Marcus (1978). “Ideological Constraint in the Mass Public: A Methodological Critique and Some New Findings” in American Journal of Political Science, vol.22, no.2

Purpose: This article is a critique and response to the findings of Nie and Anderson’s “Mass Belief Systems Revisited: Political Change and Attitude Structure” (1974). Sullivan et al take issue with the contention that the ideology of the ‘mass public’ did increase between the 1956-1972 elections. Specifically, Sullivan et al’s interpretation of the data and methods of Nie et al. resulted in “that constraint in the mass public probably did not increase very much between 1956 and 1972 but that reported changes were due instead to changes in the survey items used to measure constraint” (233). In other words, Sullivan et al argue “levels of constrain probably did not change substantially during this period, but reported changes were largely due to subtle changes in the survey instruments used to measure the concept” (234)

Supporting evidence: As a preface, Nie et al used NORC surveys to “demonstrate…that there has been a major increase in the level of attitude consistency within the mass public” (234-5). That is, the mass electorate/public became constrained in their ideological perceptions, thus creating a liberal-conservative divide. Sullivan et al note, to the contrary of Nie et al, the methodology that lead to the aforementioned conclusion was in part a result of an inconsistent metric. “Before 1964, the items [in the NORC survey] were one-sided statements which were followed by queries as to whether respondents had opinions on the statements; if they did they did, they were asked to agree or disagree…. Beginning in 1964, respondents were presented with two-sided statements, followed by queries as to whether they had been interested enough in the issue to favor one side over the other” (237). Sullivan et al contented the latter incarnation of NORC surveys “are more reliable measures of the left-right dimension than those used prior to 1964” which in turn “are worded in a way that promotes ‘agree’ responses, regardless of ideology, since the alternatives are not made evident to respondents” (237).

To retest Nie et al results, Sullivan et al randomly selected respondents in the Twin Cities area, and submitted them to questions from either side of the 1964 divide.

When looking at the results, Sullivan et al find similar differences of the Nie et al data. However, an exception is found in pairs “which include the size of government issue, and this is result is consistent with that reported by Nie and associates. This pattern thus supports their view that the size of government issue has become orthogonal to the left-right dimension, even when measured with the newer question formats” (240)

Another key element found in the Sullivan et al results relates to education. The retest shows, according to Sullivan et al, “that changing levels of constraint are not related to changing levels of education in the population, since the item-item correlations increase about equally among all educational groups between 1960 and 1964” (243)

To close their discussion, it is concluded “that response bias existed in the earlier surveys, but that its impact is very difficult to assess. Suffice it to say, others who would attempt longitudinal studies with the national election surveys should bear this difficulty in mind. But, given our earlier presentation, this particular bias does not appear as serious as the question wording bias in measuring changing levels of constraint before and after 1964” (247)

John R. Zaller The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion

Chapter 1

How do people form political preferences?

The arguments in this book integrate three forces into an answer to this question: • Diffusion of news and political arguments • Individual evaluations in the light of political values and predispositions • Conversion of reactions into attitude reports on mass surveys and elections

The dynamic element: coverage of public affairs information in mass media. The most significant argument is that what matters most for the formulation of mass opinion is the balance of media and the amount of media attention to contending political opinions.

Assumptions: 1. Citizens vary in attention to politics and thus to exposure of political information 2. People react critically only to the extent that they are knowledgeable about political affairs. 3. Citizens construct opinion statements on the fly. 4. In constructing statements they make use of ideas most immediate to them.

Efforts of explanatory integration are uncommon in public opinion field. Most attempts to explain voting behavior exist in distinct “domains” (e.g. presidential elections, congressional elections, or local elections). This book seeks to produce an generalizable explanation for most domains.

The two most important variables are political awareness and political values. These will be defined later.

Chapter 2

What is the relationship between information, predispositions, and opinions?

1. People are dependent on elite discourse for information. 2. Public prefers “highly thematic” – stereotyped – news presentations. This is also called “frames of reference.” 3. Many stereotypes are permanent features of the political culture, but many are also formed due to recent events.

Can the public choose between frames of reference? Form alternative visions about what the issues is? Zaller’s answer is that it is probably unlikely. He uses the example of shifting attitudes on race in the 20th Century. When elites believed blacks to be inferior to whites, so did the public. This changed only when elite consensus changed.

While Zaller believes that party conversion processes are important (i.e. when the Dixie-crats shifted to the Republican Party in the 1970s and 80s), he believes the more significant force is opinion leadership (elite opinions and consensus).

He also notes that public opinion on defense spending shifted in tandem with the balance of media coverage.

1. People vary greatly in political attentiveness. 2. The average overall awareness of the American public is very low.

Most models ignore the effects of low political awareness. Zaller creates a model that accounts for this force in American politics.

Political awareness has important effects but it is nonlinear. It is also nonmonotonic (when association between variables is positive over part of the range of the independent varable and negative over the other part).

Opinion formation is a multi-stage process and awareness effects different parts of this process.

Zaller believes the most important contribution of this book is to systematically explain effects of political awareness on public opinion.

DEFINITIONS: Political awareness – the extent to which an individual pays attention to politics and understands what he encounters (21). Political predispositions – stable, individual level traits that regulate the acceptance or non-acceptance of political communications (22). Predispositions mediate people’s response to elite information, but are not in the short run influenced by elites. Values – General and enduring standards (23).

Shortcomings in values literature: 1. Fails to take systematic account of vast differences in political awareness. 2. Fails to specify nature of theoretical relationship of different value continua to one another and political ideology.

Values are domain specific (e.g. foreign policy, race, etc.) Ideology is a general left-right orienting schema.

Dimensionality of ideology related to that of intelligence. There is not just one type of intelligence nor is there just one type of ideology.

What is an opinion?

Opinion surveys are flawed. They do not reveal pre-existing “true attitudes.” 1. Overtime instability 2. Systematic error 3. Wording effects (endorsement effects, etc.)

Chapter 3

Proposing a model!

DEFINITIONS: Consideration – any reason that might induce an individual to decide a political issue one way or another. Persuasive messages – arguments or images providing a reason for taking a position; if accepted they become considerations. Cueing messages – contextual information about ideological or partisan implications of persuasive messages (e.g. If a conservative knows that the elite delivering a persuasive message is also conservative, she is more likely to accept the message).

The model: Receive-Accept-Sample (RAS). Use: To explore and explain numerous aspects of mass opinion. In particular, the distribution of mass opinion in different types of political environments.

RAS assertions: Reception axiom: The greater a person’s level of cognitive engagement with an issue, the more likely he or she is to be exposed to and comprehend – in a word, to receive – political messages concerning that issue ((42). Resistance axiom: People tend to resist arguments that are inconsistent with their political predispositions, but they do so only to the extent that they possess the contextual information necessary to perceive a relationship between the message and their predispositions (45). Accessibility axiom: The more recently a consideration has been called to mind or thought about, the less time it takes to retrieve that consideration or related considerations from memory and bring them to the top of the head for use (48). Response axiom: Individuals answer survey questions by averaging across the considerations that are immediately salient or accessible to them (49).

Chapter 6 – Mainstream and Polarization Effects

There are two situation types: Mainstream – when elites achieve near consensus Polarizations – when elites disagree along partisan or ideological lines.

Mainstream: Better educated individuals are more susceptible to mainstream effects.

Correlations between awareness and support for a policy should be strongest when elite consensus is strongest and less when elite consensus is nonexistent.

Polarizations: More aware liberals and conservatives will gravitate to more liberal and conservative information respectively.

“Attitude constraint” – if one is liberal on one issue then he or she is more likely to be liberal on other issues.

Chapter 7 – Basic Processes of Attitude Change

According to the RAS, attitudes do not exist. People make “attitude reports” based on momentarily salient considerations.

“Attitude change” in the RAS is then a shift in positive/negative considerations on an issue. Permanent alternations in long-term response probabilities is then attitude change according to the RAS (118).

Why does this salience change? 1. Recent events or information 2. The balance of one type of persuasive message has changed.

Attitude change involves 2 steps: 1) reception of ideas and 2) acceptance of considerations.

Prevalence of one type of consideration will increase if intensity of message has increased.

DEFINITIONS: Partisan resistance – refuse to internalize dominant message if inconsistent with underlying predispositions. Inertial resistance – well-informed individuals with large stores of pre-existing considerations swamp new considerations. More aware persons always resistant to change. Countervalent resistance – internalizing new oppositional considerations.

Reception depends on individual levels of political awareness.

Zaller, John R., (1992). The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion. Cambridge University Press: New York

Chapter 10: Information Flow and Electoral Choice

This chapter is an attempt to evaluate the suspicion, “… that citizens vary in their susceptibility to influence according to their general levels of political awareness and their predispositions to accept the campaign messages that they receive,” (216).

Zaller looks at four types of contested elections:

1) House of Representatives 2) U.S. Senate 3) General presidential elections 4) Presidential Primary elections

Attempting to understand how, in response to competing flows of political information, mass attitudes form and change (especially interested in the process by which citizens resist dominant campaign messages).

Results:

   In looking first at the dynamic of incumbent advantage, Zaller posits that highly aware persons are difficult to influence, that those who pay little attention are highly stable (rarely encounter the communications that can change their preferences), and that the moderately aware are the most volatile because they pay enough attention to receive partisan communication, but are not sufficiently committed to their initial preferences.  He finds that poitical awareness is important as a resistance factor because it is a proxy for precampaign considerations.  When these considerations are controlled, awareness continues to have an effect because it engenders partisan and countervalent resistance to incumbent-dominated campaigns.  Further, seniority is helpful in low-intensity races, but hurts in contentious ones (low to moderately aware voters are more likely to receive pro-incumbent communication with five-term incumbents… which changes with higher campaign intensities).  Further, because the ideological issue distance has virtually no direct effect, inertia prevents defections.  (Notice the discussion of Massachusetts? See p. 240) In the end, countervalent resistance is the most important source of resistance to dominant political campaigns (247).  
    Zeller then turns to the comparative perspective, and asks, “What happens to electoral choice as campaign intensity increases, thereby providing voters with larger amounts of candidate information? (248). In answering the question (an attempt to address more systematic differences in flows of information), he looks at incumbent voter defection in low and high intensity Senate campaigns and the 1984 presidential race.   He finds that while House elections rarely reach the intensity to penetrate the least aware, both presidential and Senate campaigns do.  The data suggest that lead inpartisans and outpartisans develop overall candidate evaluations that are more polarized along partisan lines in more intense campaigns (across the three types and even within them).  The two factors at work in these intense elections are: 1) more balanced communication flows, which contributes to party polarization; and 2) a larger overall volume of communication, which drives members of party X in the direction of party X through a partisan bias in information processing.  The key is not that partisans are more selective in which information to accept, but that processing more information, despite the similar partisan biases of everyone else, leads them to form more polarized net evaluations (leading to more party line voting in more intense elections).  This is different in House elections where less aware voters who are undisturbed by any new information, due to an overall lower level of information in House elections, do not defect to the opposition.  The take home finding is: “When people are exposed to two sets of electoral information, they are able to choose among them on the basis of their partisanship and values even when they do not score especially well on tests of political awareness.  But when individuals are exposed to one-sided communication flow, as in low-key House and Senate elections, their capacity for critical resistance appears to be quite limited,” (253).   
    Zeller then turns to presidential primaries, which give more opportunity to observe change than in partisan elections.  In looking at the Hart vs. Mondale Democratic nomination contest of 1984, Zeller sees a complex stimulus to mass opinion ripe for evaluating the effects of information flow on preferences.  In breaking the primary into 4 seasons, the results tell a “a story of the differential penetration of candidate messages of differing intensities,” (254).  The point of the analyses was that awareness-induced resistance to dominate campaigns is far from automatic.  Resistance depends upon access to communications in two forms: 1) stored considerations and information from past campaigns; or 2) current reception of countervalent communications or cues.  

The aim of the chapter was, ultimately, to show: Exposure to competing influences forms considerations upon which people can summarize political decisions, whether in voting or responding to surveys.

Chapter 11: Evaluating the Model and Looking Toward Future Research

“If the public had an opinion and there was no pollster around to measure it, would public opinion exist?”

    The RAS model is about two kinds of public opinion: The considerations that people form in response to political communication flows and their translation of disorganized considerations into survey responses.  The model marries a theory of information diffusion through a population that is differentially attentive to politics (A1 and A2), with a theory of how people turn this information into survey responses (A3 and A4)(265).  Zeller acknowledges that his model misses much of what is actually occurring in achieving breadth and parsimony, and this chapter is an attempt to assess the strengths and shortcomings of the model.  

In restating Zeller’s basic argument, he roughly argues that:

• Political campaigns consist of multiple and frequently conflicting stream of persuasive messages that the public responds to in forming their considerations • The more aware an individual, the more likely they are to receive the message and resist information that is inconsistent with their values • When these communications are internalized, they become the reasons for taking a side on a particular issue • People respond to surveys with whatever consideration is most immediately salient, and survey responses are unstable because what is at the top of a person’s head varies stochastically over time • While individuals do vacillate in their responses, the range is systematically determined • By producing gradual changes in the balance of considerations in people’s minds, changes in the flow of communications cause attitude change • The effect of any communication depends on the ideas already present and any concurrent exposure to opposing ideas • If a person is already exposed to a large mass of inertial stored information or countervalvalent information, the effect singular information is small. If a person has little prior information or little access to alternative communication flows, information from the dominant campaign will have a larger effect • Values are also especially important, alongside political predisposition, in a person’s resistance to attitude change, because they regulate both the internalization of the dominant campaigns message, but also the acquisition of countervanlent and inertial considerations • Campaigns have differing effects, which depend upon prior stores of partisan information and the relative intensity of the opposing message. Differences in exposure, when two-sided and intense, creates the differences in persuasion (not differences in individual psychology in different political contexts)

The first conclusion, “…was that resistance to persuasion depends very heavily on the availability of countervalent communications, either in the form of opposing information or of cueing messages from oppositional elites,” (267). The least important resistance mechanism was inertial resistance, because it does not depend on exposure and relies on internal resources. Zeller also admits that he assumes that elite communications shape mass opinion (later acknowledging that the reception-acceptance model can capture the joint effects of this and the humble word-of-mouth modes of diffusion). In his words, “… the question is not whether elites lead or follow, but how much and which elites lead rather than follow mass opinion, and under what circumstances they do so,” (273, italics in the original). He then moves on to ‘critically review’ each of his defining axioms. Zeller then goes on to deal with theoretical issues (282) and methodological issues (289) separately, before suggesting other issues that are compatible with the RAS model (presidential character (295), trust in government (299), and popular support for authoritarian regimes (301)). In concluding, he then reduces his four axiom model into two main ideas. First, individuals do not possess “true attitudes,” but a series of poorly integrated considerations. Second, in the process by which citizens use information from the political environment to form opinions, the interaction between political awareness and political predispositions is fundamental. In the end, Zeller sees his work as a determined swim against the emphasis on the diversity of individuals’ responses to politics, and elucidates a conviction in finding stronger models and broad generalizations that can simplify the realities experienced in life (309).

Conover, Pamela J., and Feldman, Stanley (1981). “The Origins of Liberal/Conservative Self-Identifications,” American Journal of Political Science. 25(4):p. 617-645

In this article, Conover and Feldman (C&F) are concerned with the study of the mass electorate which had, to that point, employed the Liberal/Conservative Continuum. They believe that the continuum ignores the meaning of liberal/conservative self identifications and the impact they have on political behavior. This strand of research generally concludes that the impact on political perceptions and behavior that these labels and self–identifications have is considerable, despite the public’s lack of understanding the traditional conceptualizations of ideological terms. What they miss, C&F argue, is the dynamics of the process that underlies such distinctions. C&F start by addressing two questionable assumptions of this earlier work. The first is that the meaning of ideological labels is structured in dimensional terms. The second is that the content of these meanings is issue oriented. In looking at the preponderance of “social” issues, C&F find a group of issues which challenge the oft employed traditional liberal/conservative spectrum. Their problem is that the liberal perspective is not opposite the conservative perspective, and that they may not share perceptual frameworks. They question past interpretations based upon an ideological anchoring point, and wonder if the meaning of ideological terms is actually structured dimensionally. They turn to research that points to a multidimensionality, a byproduct of which is that the salience of specific beliefs differs from person to person. This ultimately suggests that these individuals also create different frames of reference for interpreting ideological labels, and that liberals and conservatives may differ in the way that they understand those labels. In employing Kerlinger’s “criteria referents” they explain that attitudes differ in their “referents” (focus); referents that are “criterial” (central) to one may be irrelevant to another. Kerlinger suggests that this means liberalism and conservatism are actually relatively distinct attitude systems. They are each based on different critical referents. C&F also take up the content of meaning and argue that issues stances are not necessarily determined by ideological self-identifications. They believe that ideological labels are political symbols. Their power comes in their ability to engender positive or negative feelings (their evaluative content). In their words, “…in the absence of substantial cognitive content, ideological symbols or labels are expected to derive their affect from their association with other symbols of social conflict such as various groups of issues,” (622). C&F then outline their model of ideological self-identification, a critical element of which is a specification of the relationship between ideological labels and self-identifications. For C&F, it is the evaluative meaning these labels that is closest to placement (you identify with it if you feel good about it). Ideological self-placement reflects a “psychological attachment” to a particular group (Assumption). The implication, lost in other models, is that individuals that label themselves as conservatives have different reasons for doing so than those who call themselves liberals. Liberals and conservatives do not view the political world from two sides of the same coin, they argue, but from different currencies. Both cognitive factors and political symbols influence attitudes, and consequently ideological self-identification. In their analysis, C&F employ three sets of variables and a number of models to answer the questions at hand (for a complete discussion of data and methods, see 625-8). They find that reflected in the meaning given to ideological labels are different perspectives on politics. Liberals make use of four categories: “Change,” “recent social issues,” “equality,” and “concern with problems.” Conservatives routinely reference four other categories of meaning: “fiscal policies,” “socialism/capitalism,” “New Deal issues,” and “foreign policy.” They ultimately find three sources of support for their specification: 1) evaluations of ideological labels have a strong impact on self-identification, and mediate the impact of issues and symbols on identification; 2) They find that the absence strong correlation, the relationship between evaluations and different symbols and issues, and different categorical emphases run contrary to the bipolar conception; and 3) That ideological labels (and then self-identification) have largely symbolic meaning to the mass public (nonissue-oriented). In the end, they conclude that, “… our analysis suggests that the public’s usage of ideological labels is more of a simplification than a distortion of reality, and that ideological identifications constitute more a symbolic than issue-oriented link to the political world,” (644).

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