LOCATING THE ISSUE PUBLIC:
The Multi-Dimensional Nature of
Engagement with Health Care Reform
Vincent Price, Clarissa David, Brian Goldthorpe,
Marci McCoy Roth and Joseph N. Cappella
This research examines in detail the structure of the issue public for health care re-
form, drawing from extensive, nationally representative survey data tapping general
attentiveness to news and public affairs, speciﬁc interests in health care issues, and
motivations (e.g., personal health and ﬁnancial conditions) to follow health care reform
issues. We furthermore adopt a multi-dimensional approach to deﬁning the contours of
the issue public for health care policy, separately studying its cognitive, affective, and
behavioral underpinnings. Results indicate only weak interconnections across these
dimensions—measured through health care knowledge, holding strong opinions on
health care issues, and participation in health-related political activities, respec-
tively—and somewhat different structural and motivational patterns underlying each.
Theoretical, conceptual and methodological implications of these ﬁndings are
Key words: issue publics; public opinion; political information; political participation;
health care reform.
Vincent Price, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, 3620 Walnut
Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6220, USA. (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Vincent Price and Joseph N. Cappella are Professors in the Annenberg School for Communication
at the University of Pennsylvania, where Clarissa David, Brian Goldthorpe, and Marci McCoy
Roth are doctoral students. Gathering of the data reported here was supported by grants to
Vincent Price and Joseph N. Cappella from The National Science Foundation (Grant EIA-
0306801) and the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. Views
expressed are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reﬂect opinions of the sponsoring
Political Behavior, Vol. 28, No. 1, March 2006 (
0190-9320/06/0300-0033/0 Ó 2006 Springer ScienceþBusiness Media, Inc.