“Lost in Issue Space: Measuring Levels of Ideology in the American Public” (with Mike Barber)

There is substantial debate about the degree to which American citizens think ideologically. In fact, though there is a continuum of views, many scholars can be classified as ideological minimalists, who believe issue preferences are largely unconnected to one another. There is another camp that takes a maximalist stance by suggesting that the American public are deeply ideological. It is plain that both of these perspectives cannot simultaneously be correct. Using multiple surveys we show that both perspectives are incomplete in their understanding of the American public. Our results illustrate that even though ideology predicts individual positions exceptionally well, any such measure only captures a fraction of the complexity of voter attitudes. Measuring the predictive power and structure of ideology in the American public is critical to fully understanding how Americans reason through politics.


The paper appendix contains supplementary materials referenced in the text.