In the realm of politics the relevance of groups derives from their centrality to government institutions, the policy process, and election campaigns. In addition, individuals have a predisposition to rely on cues and shortcuts when making choices and forming preferences; groups are ideal for this purpose. Groups help orient individuals to their social world by providing standards, supplying information, and defining friend and foe. If groups are central to politics and political cognition then we should find an underlying political structure within which group attitudes can be organized, and through which other political attitudes, coalitions, and behaviors can be viewed. In our analysis we apply Rabinowitz (1976) Line of Sight method for ordering object pairs consistent with the Euclidean spatial model to the complete series of group thermometer ratings from the NES Presidential Election Studies, 1964 through 1992. The resulting eight group by group matrices are subjected to a series of multidimensional scaling models to determine the underlying structure of the group spatial distances. Our findings suggest that orientations toward groups can be satisfactorily mapped into a two-dimensional space defined by partisan and affective axes. Over this 30-year period we find that attitudes toward groups have become more emotional and less partisan in nature. Interpretation of the group space is further aided by the use of ideal-point regressions that make it possible to place voters, members of the New Deal coalition, and issue publics in the space defined by group attitudes.
Political Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 14, 2004
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