Ideological (Mis)Perception: Views of the Ideology of Candidates for Office Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Gutman, Ellen
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Political Science
  • Americans know very little about politics, but are somehow still making political decisions. This paper seeks to determine some of the criteria used to make those decisions. First, through the theory of motivated reasoning, it examines the beliefs that citizens hold about the ideology of candidates for office and finds that these beliefs are mostly correct, but often biased. Then, by examining the policy preferences of candidates for office and survey respondents as well as non-policy related beliefs about candidates, this paper finds that these personality traits, as well as policy preferences, are useful in understanding the perceptions voters have of candidate ideology. Whereas ideology ratings should be determined strictly by policy preferences because ideology is a question of policy, perceived ideology is explained by both policy and personality. This finding leads to a conclusion that the judgments made by voters about candidates are, at least to some degree, based on things unrelated to the actual ideology of candidates.
Date of publication
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Stimson, James
  • MacKuen, Michael
  • Aldrich, John
  • Master of Arts
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2009

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