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Partisan Priorities

Partisan Priorities
How Issue Ownership Drives and Distorts American Politics


  • Date Published: July 2013
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107617278


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About the Authors
  • Americans consistently name Republicans as the party better at handling issues like national security and crime, while they trust Democrats on issues like education and the environment – a phenomenon called “issue ownership.” Partisan Priorities investigates the origins of issue ownership, showing that in fact the parties deliver neither superior performance nor popular policies on the issues they “own.” Rather, Patrick J. Egan finds that Republicans and Democrats simply prioritize their owned issues with lawmaking and government spending when they are in power. Since the parties tend to be particularly ideologically rigid on the issues they own, politicians actually tend to ignore citizens' preferences when crafting policy on these issues. Thus, issue ownership distorts the relationship between citizens' preferences and public policies.

    • Examines the origins and consequences of issue ownership for U.S. politics and policymaking
    • Includes in-depth examples of how issue ownership affects policymaking by contemporary presidents, including Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama
    • Presents qualitative analyses and formal modeling with accessible figures
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    Reviews & endorsements

    “This book takes us far toward understanding the current dysfunction in Washington. Using powerful tools and scrupulously even-handed analysis, Egan shows that each party’s priorities are driven by its office holders, activists, and interest groups. The policy preferences of ordinary Americans have little impact. Real reform will not happen until the hard lessons of this book have been absorbed.” – Christopher H. Achen, Princeton University

    “Partisan Priorities is a most important and welcome book that links ‘issue ownership’ to larger questions of declining short-term democratic responsiveness and increasing partisan polarization in the United States. It is theoretically and empirically impressive, marshalling a wide array of public opinion and other data and persuasively emphasizing the importance of examining issues and behavior in the aggregate to understand the significance of issue ownership in the American political system.” – Robert Y. Shapiro, Columbia University

    “Partisan Priorities is a provocative book that challenges our understanding of how political parties and issues matter in American politics. At its heart is a simple idea – that party ownership of issues matters in American politics and that this ownership is driven not by the policy positions parties take or their performance on the issues while in government, but by the priorities parties place on them. The idea turns out to be quite powerful. Egan carefully crafts a measure of ownership based on public assessments of which party would do a better job on various issues, and demonstrates that party priorities drive public assessments. He then shows that this issue ownership impacts politics and political representation in important ways. It is an ambitious piece of work to be sure and deserves a wide audience among scholars of American politics and beyond.” – Christopher Wlezien, University of Texas at Austin

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2013
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107617278
    • length: 264 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.42kg
    • contains: 20 b/w illus. 24 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Consensus issues: amidst polarization, shared goals
    3. The measure and meaning of issue ownership
    4. Ruling out the policy and performance hypotheses
    5. Partisan priorities: the source of issue ownership
    6. How issue ownership distorts American politics
    7. Conclusion.

  • general resources

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  • Author

    Patrick J. Egan, New York University
    Patrick J. Egan is Assistant Professor of Politics and Public Policy at New York University. He is co-editor of Public Opinion and Constitutional Controversy (with Nathaniel Persily and Jack Citrin, 2008). Partisan Priorities is based on his dissertation, which won the Carl Albert Award for best dissertation in legislative studies from the Legislative Studies Section of the American Political Science Association. In 2012, Professor Egan won the NYU Golden Dozen Award in recognition for his outstanding contribution to learning in the classroom. Before entering academia, he served as an Assistant Deputy Mayor of Policy and Planning in the office of Philadelphia mayor Edward Rendell.

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