Original Paper

Political Behavior

, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 369-389

Who’s the Party of the People? Economic Populism and the U.S. Public’s Beliefs About Political Parties

  • Stephen P. NicholsonAffiliated withProgram in Political Science, University of California, Merced Email author 
  • , Gary M. SeguraAffiliated withDepartment of Political Science, Stanford University

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Abstract

Some observers of American politics have argued that Republicans have redrawn the social class basis of the parties by displacing the Democrats as the party of the common person. While others have addressed the argument by implication, we address the phenomenon itself. That is, we examine whether the populist rhetoric used by conservatives has reshaped the American public’s perceptions about the social class basis of American political parties. To this end, we used NES data and created novel survey questions for examining the class-based images of the parties. We examine whether the public holds populist images of the Republican Party and whether the working class and evangelical Christians are especially likely to hold this belief. Contrary to this argument, most Americans view the Democrats as the party of the people. Furthermore, working class and evangelical Christians are no less likely to hold this belief.

Keywords

Populism Party image Social class American elections