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Don't Know Much about Democracy: Reporting Survey Data with Nonsubstantive Responses

  • Jonathan Reilly (a1) and L. J Zigerell

Large majorities in nearly every country support democracy, according to studies of cross-national surveys. But many of these reports have treated as missing data persons who did not provide a substantive response when asked to offer an opinion about the suitability of democracy as a regime type for their country, which has led to substantial overestimates of expressed support for democracy in some countries. This article discusses the consequences of excluding such nonsubstantive responses and offers suggestions to improve the study of popular support for democracy.

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Paul D. Allison 2002. Missing Data. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Marita Carballo . 2008. “Cultural Trends in Argentina: 1983–2000.” In Changing Values, Persisting Cultures: Case Studies in Value Change, ed. T. Pettersson and Y. Esmer , 95120. Leiden, the Netherlands: Brill.

Gary King , Michael Tomz , and Jason Wittenberg . 2000. “Making the Most of Statistical Analyses: Improving Interpretation and Presentation.” American Journal of Political Science 44 (April): 341–55.

William Mishler , and Richard Rose . 2001. “Political Support for Incomplete Democracies: Realist vs. Idealist Theories and Measures.” International Political Science Review 22 (October): 303–20.

Pippa Norris . 1999. “Introduction: The Growth of Critical Citizens?” In Critical Citizens: Global Support for Democratic Governance, ed. P. Norris , 127. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Richard Rose . 2002. “How Muslims View Democracy: Evidence from Central Asia.” Journal of Democracy 13 (October): 102–11.

Mark Tessler . 2002. “Do Islamic Orientations Influence Attitudes toward Democracy in the Arab World? Evidence from Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Algeria.” International Journal of Comparative Sociology 43 (October): 229–49.

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PS: Political Science & Politics
  • ISSN: 1049-0965
  • EISSN: 1537-5935
  • URL: /core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics
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