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On the Structure and Sequence of Issue Evolution

Edward G. Carmines and James A. Stimson
The American Political Science Review
Vol. 80, No. 3 (Sep., 1986), pp. 901-920
DOI: 10.2307/1960544
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1960544
Page Count: 20
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On the Structure and Sequence of Issue Evolution
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Abstract

How do political issues arise, and come to affect political party politics? We develop a theory and model of issue evolution, illustrating both by examining the dynamic evolution of the issue of racial desegregation. Our modeling concerns two central problems: (1) the structure of the evolution--a pattern of dynamic causality between the early policy cues from professional politicians, in Congress in the case at hand, and later mass response, and (2) the sequence of changes in elite behavior, changes in mass perceptions of party issue stances, changes in mass affect toward the parties, and changes in party identifications among citizens. We suggest that the causal process developed for the racial case is quite general for other times, other nations, and other issues. The theory of issue evolution is developed as a general statement of the organic connection between elite and mass behavior, a working model of the dynamics of American politics across time and issues.

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