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Facing the Challenge of DemocracyExplorations in the Analysis of Public Opinion and Political Participation$
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Paul M. Sniderman and Benjamin Highton

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691151106

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691151106.001.0001

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Pathways to Conservative Identification

Pathways to Conservative Identification

The Politics of Ideological Contradiction in the United States

(p.120) V Pathways to Conservative Identification
Facing the Challenge of Democracy

Christopher Ellis

James A. Stimson

Princeton University Press

This chapter considers a long-standing paradox in American public opinion: that the American public is, on average, operationally liberal and at the same time symbolically conservative. It discusses the reasons for and implications of it, working to understand why so many citizens who hold predominantly liberal policy preferences identify as ideological conservatives. This chapter argues that because of its nonpolitical connotations and the way in which it is used by political elites, the ideological label “conservative” is both more popular and more multidimensional than the label “liberal.” It suggests three general “pathways” through which an individual can approach the decision to identify as ideological conservatives.

Keywords:   ideological contradiction, liberal policy preferences, ideological conservatives, conservative identification, American public opinion

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