Party identification, issue attitudes, and the dynamics of political debate

Logan Dancey, Paul Goren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


This article investigates whether media coverage of elite debate surrounding an issue moderates the relationship between individual-level partisan identities and issue preferences. We posit that when the news media cover debate among partisan elites on a given issue, citizens update their party identities and issue attitudes. We test this proposition for a quartet of prominent issues debated during the first Clinton term: health care reform, welfare reform, gay rights, and affirmative action. Drawing on data from the Vanderbilt Television News Archives and the 1992-93-94-96 NES panel, we demonstrate that when partisan debate on an important issue receives extensive media coverage, partisanship systematically affects-and is affected by-issue attitudes. When the issue is not being contested, dynamic updating between party ties and issue attitudes ceases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)686-699
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Political Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2010


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