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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority


From British Journal of Political Science


Does Ethnic Diversity Erode Trust? Putnam’s ‘Hunkering Down’ Thesis Reconsidered

Patrick Sturgis, Ian Brunton-Smith, Sanna Read and Nick Allum

November 2010


We use a multi-level modelling approach to estimate the effect of ethnic diversity on measures of generalized and strategic trust using data from a new survey in Britain with a sample size approaching 25,000 individuals. In addition to the ethnic diversity of neighbourhoods, we incorporate a range of indicators of the socio-economic characteristics of individuals and the areas in which they live. Our results show no effect of ethnic diversity on generalized trust. There is a statistically significant association between diversity and a measure of strategic trust, but in substantive terms, the effect is trivial and dwarfed by the effects of economic deprivation and the social connectedness of individuals.


From Public Opinion Quarterly


Explaining Politics, Not Polls: Reexamining Macropartisanship with Recalibrated NES Data

James E. Campbell

November 2010


Like all surveys, the American National Election Studies (NES) imperfectly reflects population characteristics. There are well-known differences between actual and NES-reported turnout rates and between actual and NES-reported presidential vote divisions. This research seeks to determine whether the aggregate misrepresentation of turnout and vote choice affects the aggregate measurement of party identification: macropartisanship. After NES data are reweighted to correct for turnout and vote choice errors, macropartisanship is found to be more stable, to be less sensitive to short-term political conditions, and to have shifted more in the Republican direction in the early 1980s. The strength of partisanship also declined a bit more in the 1970s and rebounded a bit less in recent years than the uncorrected NES data indicate.

Generational Conflict Or Methodological Artifact?: Reconsidering the Relationship between Age and Policy Attitudes in the U.S., 1984-2008

Andrew S. Fullerton and Jeffrey Dixon

November 2010


In light of claims of a generational conflict over age-specific policies and the current fiscal troubles of related governmental programs, this article examines Americans’ attitudes toward education, health, and Social Security spending through the use of a new methodology designed to uncover asymmetries in public opinion and disentangle age, period, and cohort effects. Based on generalized ordered logit models within a cross-classified fixed-effects framework using General Social Survey data between 1984 and 2008, we find little evidence consistent with gray peril and self-interest hypotheses suggesting that older people support spending for health care and Social Security but not education. The divide in attitudes toward education spending is the result of cohort–not age–effects. Yet these cohort effects extend to other attitudes and are asymmetrical: The so-called greatest generation (born around 1930 or earlier) is ambivalent about government spending and especially likely to say that we spend the “right amount” on health care. As people approach retirement age, they also become more likely to say that we spend the “right amount” on Social Security. The nuanced ways in which American public opinion is divided by age and cohort are uncovered only through the use of a new methodology that does not conceive of public support and opposition as symmetrical. Historical reasons for these divides, along with their contemporary implications, are discussed.

Evaluations Of Congress And Voting In House Elections: Revisiting the Historical Record

David R. Jones

November 2010


The literature portrays the congressional voter of the 1950s through the early 1970s as having been unwilling or unable to hold Congress electorally accountable for its collective legislative performance. In contrast, recent literature has demonstrated that in elections from 1974 onward, voters have regularly used congressional performance evaluations as part of their voting decisions. Specifically, poor evaluations of Congress lower support for candidates from the ruling majority party, all else being equal. This research note hypothesizes that Americans in the earlier era were willing and able to hold Congress electorally accountable for its collective performance in the same partisan fashion as today’s voters are, but that this behavior was obscured from previous researchers because they lacked access to appropriate empirical data. Using survey data largely unavailable to scholars of the earlier era, I find evidence supporting this hypothesis.


From Political Behavior

Personality and Political Discussion

Matthew V. Hibbing, Melinda Ritchie and Mary R. Anderson

November 2010


Political discussion matters for a wide array of political phenomena such as attitude formation, electoral choice, other forms of participation, levels of political expertise, and tolerance. Thus far, research on the underpinnings of political discussion has focused on political, social, and contextual forces. We expand upon this existing research by examining how individual personality traits influence patterns of political discussion. Drawing on data from two surveys we investigate how personality traits influence the context in which citizens discuss politics, the nature of the relationship between individuals and their discussion partners, and the influence discussion partners have on respondents’ views. We find a number of personality effects and our results highlight the importance of accounting for individual predispositions in the study of political discussion.

The Origins & Meaning of Liberal/Conservative Self-Identifications Revisited

Simon Zschirnt

November 2010


This paper examines the permanence of differences in the psychological underpinnings of ideological self-identifications. Previous research has suggested that conservatives differ from liberals insofar as their self-identifications as such are best explained as the product of a negative reaction (both to liberalism generally and to the groups associated with it in particular) rather than a positive embrace. However, this paper demonstrates that the dynamics underlying the formation of ideological self-identifications are not static reflections of inherent differences in liberal and conservative psychologies but rather evolve in response to changes in the political environment. Whereas feelings (positive or negative) toward liberalism played a decisive role in shaping individuals’ ideological self-identifications during the New Deal/Great Society era of liberal and Democratic political hegemony, the subsequent resurgence of political conservatism produced a decisive shift in the bases of liberal and conservative self-identifications. In particular, just as conservative self-identifications once primarily represented a reaction against liberalism and its associated symbols, hostility toward conservatism and its associated symbols has in recent years become an increasingly important source of liberal self-identifications.

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