In this article, I use joint scaling methods and similar items from three large-scale surveys to place voters, parties, and politicians from different Latin American countries on a common ideological space. The findings reveal that ideology is a significant determinant of vote choice in Latin America. They also suggest that the success of leftist leaders at the polls reflects the views of the voters sustaining their victories. The location of parties and leaders reveals that three distinctive clusters exist: one located at the left of the political spectrum, another at the center, and a third on the right. The results also indicate that legislators in Brazil, Mexico, and Peru tend to be more “leftists” than their voters. The ideological drift, however, is not significant enough to substantiate the view that a disconnect between voters and politicians lies behind the success of leftist presidents in these countries. These findings highlight the importance of using a common-space scale to compare disparate populations and call into question a number of recent studies by scholars of Latin American politics who fail to adequately address this important issue.
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