Inferring party positions across issue dimensions

Robert Liñeira*, Jordi Muñoz, Guillem Rico

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

In this article, we argue that voters use party positions on an issue dimension as a heuristic device to locate parties on other dimensions on which they have less information about. We confirm our argument by fielding two survey experiments in a context with two distinct issue dimensions: the left-right and national dimensions in Catalonia. We find that the position of a hypothetical (but plausible) candidate on a national dimension exerts a great deal of influence on where respondents locate him on the left-right dimension, as well as on a more narrowly-defined socioeconomic dimension, but that the left-right position does not affect the perceived placement on the national divide. This asymmetry can be partly explained by the different nature of these issue domains, and specifically by the distinct ability of the national dimension to activate social group cues that give rise to projection biases. These findings have important implications for our understanding of issue misperceptions and of the strategic choices available to parties in multidimensional policy spaces. The nature of the issue dimension could facilitate why some issue dimensions tend to function as cue givers and others as cue receivers. We discuss the implications of our findings in constraining the strategies available to parties in multidimensional contexts.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalParty Politics
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted in press - 2020

Keywords

  • Catalonia
  • issue alignment
  • party competition
  • projection bias
  • stereotypes

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