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Political identities, vote choice, and participation: exploring the impact of expressive identities and competing issue positions

Date

2016

Authors

Thomas, Penny, author
Saunders, Kyle, advisor
Davis, Sandra, committee member
Lacy, Michael, committee member

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Abstract

America's contemporary political structure has emphasized a single liberal-conservative ideological dimension. Yet, a substantial number of citizens do not neatly reflect this elite divide in their issue positions across both economic and social issues. These "dual ideologues" may feel unrepresented and alienated by a political system that does not offer many choices in candidates or parties that are consistent with their issue positions. However, it remains unclear whether dual ideologues identify with either of the two major parties or ideological groups in the United States based on non-ideological factors. An analysis of data from the 1980 to 2008 American National Election Study shows that although dual ideologues identify with political groups at similar rates to consistent ideologues, one group of dual ideologues – libertarians -- hold weaker connections to these political groups. The study further examines the importance of expressive versus instrumental identities in influencing whether dual ideologues vote consistently with their chosen party and participate in electoral activities at the same rates as more consistent ideologues. These findings add further support to the importance of political identities, but they also indicate that the effects of strong, consistent issue positions cannot be dismissed, as a strong identity alone cannot overcome the lack of representation for those with competing issue positions. Strong and consistent issue positions play an important role in influencing many forms of political behavior, independently of political identity.

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2016 Fall.
Includes bibliographical references.

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