Working Paper

The issue context of modern American politics: semiparametric identification of latent factors from Discrete data


Byron Shafer, Richard Spady

Published Date

15 August 2002


Working Paper (CWP16/02)

A new methodology that estimates attitudes semiparametrically and estimates actions nonparametrically, as a function of the resulting attitudinal measures, is used to examine the behavioral effects of ѣultural’ and ѥconomic’ preferences in the Presidential elections of 1984 and 1992. The results suggest a shift toward ѣultural politicsҬ achievedŲst among the highly educated but spreading throughout society by the later election.One consequence is that both parties are now consistent in their policy alignments״heDemocrats being liberal on both scales, the Republicans conservative. Despite this aggregateconsistency, different social groups are attached to the parties in diĥrent ways, therebyheightening the potential for intraparty conǩct while sharpening the problem of fashioninga platform that is broadly attractive. These problems, finally, express themselves verydiĥrently within the Democratic and the Republican parties.