“Preference Intensity: Measurement and Some Implications for American Politics,” Chris Tausanovitch, UCLA

Event time: 
Wednesday, December 7, 2022 - 12:00pm to 1:15pm
Institution for Social and Policy Studies (PROS77 ), A002 See map
77 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511
Event description: 


Abstract: Political scientists have long been interested in understanding the intensity of voter preferences, but this endeavor has rarely been incorporated into the study of representation and disagreements over measurement remain. I measure intensity of preferences using a simple extension of conjoint analysis. This strategy requires large samples, so I use the approximately 500,000 cases from Nationscape. I show that simple survey marginals do not show large biases when it comes to the balance of intensity in the general population. However there are large differences in intensity across issues. Conservatives care much more about the issues on which they hold conservative views, and liberals care much more about the issues on which they hold liberal views. This may amplify polarization and affect the outcomes of primary elections. People with moderate views care more about the issues on which their views match the reigning consensus. This contradicts work that argues that moderate views are less deeply held, and supports the argument that moderate stances are beneficial in general elections.

Chris Tausanovitch is an associate professor of political science at the UCLA Department of Political Science. He is the author, with John Sides and Lynn Vavreck of The Bitter End: The 2020 Presidential Campaign and the Challenge to American Democracy. He is a recipient of the American Political Science Association’s Congressional Fellowship and a former staffer on the U.S. Senate Finance Committee. He is the principal investigator (with Lynn Vavreck) of Nationscape, a survey of over 500,000 people conducted during the 2020 election cycle, and principal investigator (with Christopher Warshaw) of The American Ideology Project, an effort to characterize the political liberalism/conservatism of every state, congressional district, city, state legislative district, and county in the United States. His work on democracy and representation has been published in The American Political Science Review, The Journal of Politics, and Political Analysis, among other outlets. He has written for the New York Times and the Washington Post, and coverage of his work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, The Atlantic, The Los Angeles Times, The Economist and elsewhere.

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