Macropartisanship and macroideology in the sophisticated electorate

Janet M. Box-Steffensmeier, Suzanna De Boef

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


There are many reasons to believe that political parties' fortunes and the ideological preferences of the electorate are tied together. Yet existing evidence finds no relationship between trends in the partisan and ideological identifications of the American electorate (Box-Steffensmeier, Knight, and Sigelman 1998). We argue that a portion of the electorate organizes political debate in terms of liberal and conservative referents and, in turn, links ideological and partisan identifications over time. Evidence from CBS News and New York Times survey data affirms the conclusion that for the more sophisticated portion of the electorate, partisan and ideological trends are mutually reinforcing in both the long and the short run. These groups are also more likely to vote than less politically sophisticated groups, so the incentives for politicians to link popular ideological sentiment with partisanship are strong; the people who pay attention to politics and put them in office (or kick them out) are the same people who connect ideology and partisanship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)232-248
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Politics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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