Public Opinion in State Politics

By Jeffrey E. Cohen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
State Residency, State Laws, and Public Opinion

BARBARA NORRANDER AND CLYDE WILCOX

“Location, location, location” is the mantra of real estate agents in describing the worth of property. Echoing this theme, social scientists are increasingly readopting a geographic perspective in analyzing public opinion and electoral outcomes. New measures of state ideology and partisanship ignited a wealth of studies. Wright, Erikson, and McIver (1985) developed their influential measure of state ideology and partisanship by pooling national media surveys over a number of years. Berry, Ringquist, Fording, and Hanson (1998) created yearly indicators of citizen ideology based on congressional ratings and election returns. Brace and his colleagues (2002) pooled General Social Surveys to create their measures of state public opinion. Finally, Jones and Norrander (1996) and Norrander (2001) demonstrate that the pooled 1988–1992 Senate National Election Studies (SNES) can be used to produce measures of state ideology and partisanship as well.

State ideology has been successfully linked to a host of state policies, including laws governing rape, alcohol, drugs, budgets, economic development, welfare, and the death penalty (Berger, Neuman, and Searles, 1991; Berman and Martin, 1992; Call, Nice, and Talarico, 1991; Johnson and Meier, 1990; Meier, 1992; Meier and Johnson, 1990; and Nice, 1991, 1992) State ideology also can be used to judge the behavior of state supreme court justices (Brace, Langer, and Hall, 2000). Furthermore, states are being studied for their contribution to national outcomes, such as presidential elections (Campbell, 1992; Erikson, McIver, and Wright, 1987; Holbrook, 1991; Jackson and Carsey, 1999a, 1999b; Shelley and Archer, 1994).

Because of data availability, most attention has been paid to state ideology or state partisanship. Yet ideology and partisanship are not always suc

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