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Values and Political Predispositions in the Age of Polarization: Examining the Relationship between Partisanship and Ideology in the United States, 1988–2012


The correlation between ideology and partisanship in the mass public has increased in recent decades amid a climate of persistent and growing elite polarization. Given that core values shape subsequent political predispositions, as well as the demonstrated asymmetry of elite polarization, this article hypothesizes that egalitarianism and moral traditionalism moderate the relationship between ideology and partisanship in that the latter relationship will have increased over time only among individuals who maintain conservative value orientations. An analysis of pooled American National Election Studies surveys from 1988 to 2012 supports this hypothesis. The results enhance scholarly understanding of the role of core values in shaping mass belief systems and testify to the asymmetric nature and mass public reception of elite cues among liberals and conservatives.

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Department of Political Science, University of Connecticut (email:; Department of Political Science, Stetson University (email:; Department of Political Science, University of Louisville (email: The authors wish to thank Julianna Pacheco for helpful comments that she provided to us in her role as a discussant on a panel on which an incipient version of this article was presented at the 2014 Southern Political Science Association annual meeting. Also, true to form, Chris Hare was generous with his time in reading an earlier draft of this manuscript. Discussing Stata graphics – as with most topics – with Shane Singh is always fun, and we thank him for his expertise that helped sharpen some of the figures that appear in this article. We are especially indebted to Paul Goren for providing us with remarkably detailed, challenging and incisive questions and comments that were essential to transforming the manuscript draft into this publication. Of course, we are ultimately grateful to William G. Jacoby, as this project never would have begun without his research and teaching exploring the role of core political values in American mass public opinion and behavior. Data replication sets are available in Harvard Dataverse at: and online appendices at

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British Journal of Political Science
  • ISSN: 0007-1234
  • EISSN: 1469-2112
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-political-science
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