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Asymmetric PoliticsIdeological Republicans and Group Interest Democrats$
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Matt Grossman and David A. Hopkins

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190626594

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190626594.001.0001

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How Democrats and Republicans Think About Politics

How Democrats and Republicans Think About Politics

(p.21) Chapter 2 How Democrats and Republicans Think About Politics
Asymmetric Politics

Matt Grossmann

David A. Hopkins

Oxford University Press

We examine the parties’ distinct sources of support in the mass electorate. Republican voters identify as conservatives, conceptualize political choices in ideological terms, view the parties as divided by broad principles, voice support for politicians who reject compromise in order to remain true to their beliefs, and demand a broad shift in the ideological direction of public policy. In contrast, Democrats are more likely to perceive political choices as involving group interests, to view party conflict as arising from clashing group coalitions, and to support politicians who make compromises in order to achieve practical accomplishments. The parties can sustain these asymmetries in the electoral arena because a majority of the public holds left-leaning views on specific policy issues but agrees with conservative principles. Each party can thus claim to represent a popular majority and readily mobilize public opinion in opposition to the other party’s actions.

Keywords:   Public opinion, Democrats, Republicans, party identification, ideology, group benefits, symbolic conservatism, operational liberalism, parties in the electorate

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