Ideology and American political elites

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Abstract

This paper presents evidence that American political elites think and behave in an ideological way. Factor analyses of individual questionnaire items drawn from elite studies in 1958 and 1972 show only marginal evidence of the type of structuring implied by the concept of ideology. However, similar analyses of a priori, multi-item scales constructed from the 1972 surveys clearly show evidence of structure for the elite sample, particularly as compared to a parallel mass sample; this raises serious questions about the use of single item scales in past analyses of political ideology. Further evidence of elite ideology is found in an analysis of interest group ratings of U.S. Representatives in 1970 and 1974. These findings provide strong support for the argument that ideology plays an important role in the perceptions and behavior of American political elites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)484-502
Number of pages19
JournalPublic Opinion Quarterly
Volume42
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 1978

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