Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Partisanship shapes views on political, non-political issues

Date:
November 12, 2012
Source:
University of Chicago
Summary:
A pre-election survey found that party affiliation alters how people react to political as well as non-political issues, including how individuals assess their own financial well-being. The results suggest that partisanship is often a substitute for knowledge and personal experience, researchers said.

A pre-election survey by the independent research organization NORC at the University of Chicago found that party affiliation alters how people react to political as well as non-political issues, including how individuals assess their own financial well-being.

The results suggest that partisanship is often a substitute for knowledge and personal experience, researchers said.

"We conducted this survey because the country is facing serious problems and solving them is made much harder by our deep partisan divide," said Kirk Wolter, senior fellow and executive vice president of survey research with NORC at the University of Chicago. "We wanted to measure what the American people were thinking and how partisanship affects their opinions. With this survey, we are attempting to provide information that will help all of us discuss how to bridge the partisan divide and solve our most pressing problems."

The survey of 2,136 adults, conducted in the weeks prior to the 2012 presidential election, measured public opinion about key issues and knowledge about responsibility for recent policies, such as the Troubled Asset Relief Program and the Affordable Care Act. Across ideologies, partisan views had the potential to distort understanding of basic facts.

Who's Responsible for State of the Economy?

"In the survey, it is clear that Republicans and Democrats see the world very differently," said Mark Hansen, the Charles L. Hutchinson Professor in Political Science. "Even matters that are not obviously political, like whether or not people think the economy is improving or whether their family's finances have improved, were strongly influenced by political party affiliation.

"Democrats were more likely to sense that the nation's economy is getting better and to report that their family's finances have improved. Republicans were more likely to report the opposite."

According to the survey:

  • 55 percent of Democrats said the nation's economy has gotten better in the last year
  • 20 percent of independents said the nation's economy has gotten better in the last year
  • 8 percent of Republicans said the nation's economy has gotten better in the last year
  • 28 percent of Democrats said their own family's finances are better off than last year
  • 14 percent of independents said their family finances are better off than last year
  • 9 percent of Republicans said their family finances are better off than last year

Accounting for other possible factors, the survey found that opinions about who is responsible for the condition of the economy are largely driven by political party affiliation:

  • Only 1.2 percent and 0.1 percent of self-identified strong Democrats assign the most blame for the state of the economy to President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats, respectively
  • Only 2.4 percent and 0.4 percent of self-identified strong Republicans assign the most blame to President George W. Bush and Congressional Republicans, respectively

Evaluating the Affordable Care Act

The survey provides empirical evidence that support for the Affordable Care Act is largely a function of whether a person is a Republican or Democrat.

"I was not surprised party affiliation influenced people's opinions of the Affordable Care Act, but I was surprised that partisanship trumped personal experiences with our health care system," said Andrea Campbell, professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Personal experiences, like being denied health insurance for a pre-existing condition, have little effect on public support for the law. Instead, support is largely based on political party affiliation and beliefs about the likely impact of the law in the near future."

There is a clear split in support for the ACA among independents, with almost half opposing the law. These respondents are much less supportive of President Obama than those who favor the law:

  • 64 percent of independents who oppose repeal of the act prefer Obama
  • 24 percent of independents who support repeal of the act prefer Obama

Support for President Obama also drops for Democrats who favor repeal of the Affordable Care Act:

  • 93 percent of Democrats who oppose repeal of the act support Obama
  • 80 percent of Democrats who support repealing the act support Obama

Party Affiliation's Impact on Policy Knowledge

The survey also found that respondents' "knowledge" of policy responsibility was strongly shaped by partisanship. People tend to attribute success in passing legislation, whatever it is, to their affiliated party. Claiming credit for policies was especially strong among Democrats and Obama supporters.

  • 62.2 percent of respondents who prefer President Obama attributed both the Affordable Care Act and the Medicare prescription drug benefit to Barack Obama, though the Medicare prescription drug benefit was signed by President George W. Bush in 2003
  • 4.3 percent of respondents who prefer Republican candidate Mitt Romney attributed both policies to George W. Bush

In addition to Hansen and Campbell, experts partnering with NORC on the survey included Stephen Ansolabehere, professor of government at Harvard University; and Benjamin Page, the Gordon S. Fulcher Professor of Decision Making at Northwestern University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Chicago. "Partisanship shapes views on political, non-political issues." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121112135231.htm>.
University of Chicago. (2012, November 12). Partisanship shapes views on political, non-political issues. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121112135231.htm
University of Chicago. "Partisanship shapes views on political, non-political issues." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121112135231.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

WHO Calls for Ban on E-Cigarette Sales to Minors

WHO Calls for Ban on E-Cigarette Sales to Minors

AFP (Aug. 26, 2014) The World Health Organization called Tuesday on governments should ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, warning that they pose a "serious threat" to foetuses and young people. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
ICREACH: NSA Built A Google Of Americans' Info

ICREACH: NSA Built A Google Of Americans' Info

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) The Intercept published an article Monday profiling what the online publication called NSA's very own Google of personal data. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Activists Urge NYC Mayor to Ban Carriage Horses

Activists Urge NYC Mayor to Ban Carriage Horses

AP (Aug. 26, 2014) A group of New Yorkers are putting Mayor Bill de Blasio on notice for what they say is reneging on his campaign promise to ban carriage horses. They rallied Tuesday near the mayor's Gracie Mansion home. (Aug. 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Does Medical Marijuana Reduce Painkiller Overdose Deaths?

Does Medical Marijuana Reduce Painkiller Overdose Deaths?

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) A new study found fewer deaths from prescription drug overdoses in states that have legalized medical marijuana. But experts disagree on the results. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins