What Goes with Red and Blue? Mapping Partisan and Ideological Associations in the Minds of Voters

  • Stephen N. Goggin
  • John A. Henderson
  • Alexander G. TheodoridisEmail author
Original Paper


To what extent do voters grasp “what goes with what” among key political objects as they attempt to understand the choices they face at the ballot box? Is recognition of these associations limited to only the most informed citizens? We design a novel conjoint classification experiment that minimizes partisan boosting and allows for the relative comparison of attribute effect when mapping voter associative networks, the cluster of attributes linked to parties and ideological labels. We ask respondents to ‘guess’ the party or ideology of hypothetical candidates with fully randomized issue priorities and biographical details. There is remarkable agreement among both high- and low-knowledge voters in linking issues to each party and ideology, suggesting this minimalist form of associative competence is more widely held in the mass public than perhaps previously thought. We find less agreement about biographical traits, which appear to pose greater informational challenges for voters. Notably, nearly identical issue priorities and traits are associated with party and ideology, indicating these two dimensions are largely fused in the minds of today’s American voters.


Partisanship Voter competence Experiment Ideology Survey methods Political sophistication 


Supplementary material

11109_2018_9525_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (244 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 243 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen N. Goggin
    • 1
  • John A. Henderson
    • 2
  • Alexander G. Theodoridis
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceSan Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceInstitution for Social and Policy Studies, Yale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  3. 3.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of CaliforniaMercedUSA

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