"Ideological Labels in America" (2015) with Christopher Claassen and Steve S. Smith. Political Behavior. 37(2): 253-278.

This paper extends Ellis and Stimson’s (Ideology in America. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012) study of the operational-symbolic paradox using issue-level measures of ideological incongruence based on respondent positions and symbolic labels for these positions across 14 issues. Like Ellis and Stimson, we find that substantial numbers—over 30 %—of Americans experience conflicted conservatism. Our issue-level data reveal, furthermore, that conflicted conservatism is most common on the issues of education and welfare spending. In addition, we also find that 20 % of Americans exhibit conflicted liberalism. We then replicate Ellis and Stimson’s finding that conflicted conservatism is associated with low sophistication and religiosity, but also find that it is associated with being socialized in a post-1960s generation and using Fox News as a main news source. Finally, we show the important role played by identities, with both conflicted conservatism and conflicted liberalism linked with partisan and ideological identities, and conflicted liberalism additionally associated with ethnic identities.



A Sampling of Current Projects:


"A Constituent-Level Analysis of Home Style"


In his studies of Congressional representation, Richard Fenno Jr. notes that each member of Congress adopts his or her own “Home Style” for interacting with constituents. This strategy ultimately focuses on how the representative forges a relationship with the district built upon trust and personal identification. If the member can successfully present an image to the electorate of empathy and understanding, the expectation of reelection increases. At the same time, the electorate has its own policy opinions, partisan attachments, and expectations from the representative. Although not emphasized in Home Style as much as the constituency-representative personal connection, these considerations play a major role in the success of the Congress member’s political life. Using new data from The American Panel Survey I further examine the relationship of representatives’ “Home Style” to the constituent’s evaluation of the representative. I explore both how this presentation of self affects the overall approval of the elected official, as well as how it affects what the constituent expects from representation.




"Using Panel Data to Evaluate the Effectiveness of Likely Voter Screens" (figures and tables) co-authored with Steven Smith 

It is well known that all those who are eligible to vote do not do so. Recognizing this phenomenon, polling firms often impose various demographic or behavioral thresholds for subjects to be included in a reported sample. By replicating the most common likely voter question over a period of months leading up to a national election, we investigate how well these polling methods screen-out and include potential voters. From this analysis, we are able to determine when, if ever, likely voter screens are more accurate than registered voter screens at predicting turnout behavior, as well as investigating which sectors of the population are under-reported in such samples. 


"Personality Stability and Politics: TIPI Variability" co-authored with Joshua Boston, Jonathan Homola, Betsy Sinclair, and Michelle Torres

Do personality traits cause Americans' political attitudes and behaviors? Researchers frequently claim they do, using the Big Five personality battery to quantify personality traits that are used to explain political behavior ranging from attitudes to legislative voting. This paper demonstrates significant threats to this type of empirical work. First, we evaluate the stability of the Big Five personality survey instrument using a nationally-representative panel survey of American adult respondents. We find high levels of variability in survey response. Second, we associate this variability with not only socioeconomic and demographic characteristics but also, and more concerning, political attitudes. The variability and associations of the instrument suggest that the relationship between personality and politics may be weaker than indicated by previous scholars and moreover should not be employed as a variable that predates political behavior.  


"The Electoral Consequences of Ideological Consistency" co-authored with Jon Rogowski

Candidates often face a choice between endorsing policy positions that appeal to their core constituencies, in which they appear ideologically pure, and those intended to generate support from more diverse groups of voters, in which they endorse a more ideologically varied set of policies. While this latter strategy may make overtures to a wider set of citizens, candidates employing such tactics may risk appearing inconsistent and unreliable. In this paper we develop a new measure of candidates’ ideological consistency to test how the distribution of candidates’ policy positions aUects voters’ support for candidates. Using data from the 2006 congressional elections, we find that ideological consistency substantially increases voter support at both the individual and aggregate levels. We further show that voters are more likely to perceive the more consistent candidate as closer to their own ideological position. Our results have important implications for candidate strategies in elections.

"Moving the Unmoved Mover?: The Origins and Limitations of Systematic Individual-Level Change in Party Identification" co-authored with Jacob M. Montgomery and Steven S. Smith

Political scientists have long disagreed about the nature of individual-level change in party identification (PID). While some scholars conclude that PID is a stable identity—attributing changes in individual responses to measurement error—others show that aggregate PID responds systematically to short-term forces such as presidential approval. In this article, we use a unique long-term panel measuring PID sixteen times in the 2011-2015 period to support a subtle compromise between these competing claims. We show that individual-level PID changes systematically over time even after accounting for measurement error and that this change is related to short-term evaluations of the parties and the president. However, although such change exists, it is modest in the medium term and more common among specific subsets of respondents. We believe that our analysis provides the most systematic examination to date of individual-level changes in PID.


Through the Ideology of the Beholder: Partisan Perceptions and Polarization Among the Mass Public co-authored with Jon Rogowski, Jonathan Homola, Betsy Sinclair, and Michelle Torres
Recent scholarship uses insight from social identity theory to conceptualize partisanship as a group identity rooted in partisan images, but devotes less attention to understanding the causes and consequences of these images. We argue that citizens’ views of partisan groups are shaped by ideological extremity and hypothesize that extreme ideological beliefs are associated with exaggerated misperceptions of partisan out-groups. Our argument contrasts with recent research that focuses on how partisan and ideological group identities, rather than principled ideological positions, generate affective and social polarization between partisans. Data from two waves of a nationally representative survey document exaggerated misperceptions of partisan out-group members and show that these exaggerations are strongly associated with ideological extremity. In a second study, an original survey experiment demonstrates that exaggerated partisan images significantly increase social polarization. Together, our results provide evidence about how ideological differences at the mass level fuel affective and social polarization.


Dynamic Congressional Approval: An ALT-ernative Approach with Betsy Sinclair

Political science has long considered congressional approval at the aggregate level and explained fluctuations as a function of macro-level political factors. This paper provides new insight into the variability and stability of congressional approval at the individual-level through a novel panel survey dataset that collects individual-level congressional approval data over a period of 41 months. We associate variability in approval with standard so- cioeconomic and demographic characteristics using a novel-to-political-science latent curve model. This methodological technique allows the model to account for random intercepts and random slopes, permitting each individual in the sample to have her own trajectory of approval over time. This innovation ensures that the results are not a function of measure- ment error but instead a function of real change over the period under investigation. The results demonstrate that even at the individual level the approval of both the president and Congress are tightly connected.

Patrick Tucker




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