Although it is commonly assumed that voters shift on an ideological spectrum over time, there has been relatively little scientific inquiry into the reasons for shifts in voter ideology. In this article, we attempt to explain why voter ideological shifts occur utilizing an interval measure of voter ideology recently developed by Kim and Fording. A pooled time-series analysis of 13 Western democracies for the period of 1952–1989 identifies several internal and external factors causing shifts in voter ideology. With respect to domestic influences, the state of the country's national economy, primarily inflation, seems to drive movement in voter ideology in a most significant way, but we find that the direction of this relationship is dependent on the ideological disposition of the incumbent government. With respect to international influences, we find significant ideological diffusion across neighboring countries of Western democracies. The effects of ideological diffusion are strongest within countries that are small relative to their neighbors. We also find that ideology is influenced by the international political environment, especially the level of East-West tension during the Cold War.
Political Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 3, 2004
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