Political Behavior

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 253–278

Ideological Labels in America

  • Christopher Claassen
  • Patrick Tucker
  • Steven S. Smith
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11109-014-9272-6

Cite this article as:
Claassen, C., Tucker, P. & Smith, S.S. Polit Behav (2015) 37: 253. doi:10.1007/s11109-014-9272-6


This paper extends Ellis and Stimson’s (Ideology in America. New York: Cambridge UniversityPress, 2012) study of the operational-symbolic paradox using issue-level measures of ideological incongruence based on respondent positions and symbolic labels for these positions across 14 issues. Like Ellis and Stimson, we find that substantial numbers—over 30 %—of Americans experience conflicted conservatism. Our issue-level data reveal, furthermore, that conflicted conservatism is most common on the issues of education and welfare spending. In addition, we also find that 20 % of Americans exhibit conflicted liberalism. We then replicate Ellis and Stimson’s finding that conflicted conservatism is associated with low sophistication and religiosity, but also find that it is associated with being socialized in a post-1960s generation and using Fox News as a main news source. Finally, we show the important role played by identities, with both conflicted conservatism and conflicted liberalism linked with partisan and ideological identities, and conflicted liberalism additionally associated with ethnic identities.


Operational ideology Symbolic ideology Identity 

Supplementary material

11109_2014_9272_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (88 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 88 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher Claassen
    • 1
  • Patrick Tucker
    • 2
  • Steven S. Smith
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of GovernmentUniversity of EssexColchesterUK
  2. 2.Department of Political Science and the Weidenbaum CenterWashington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA

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