Political Behavior

, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 627–651 | Cite as

The Role of Partisanship in Aggregate Opinion

  • Peter K. Enns
  • Gregory E. McAvoy
Original Paper


Despite the centrality of party identification in U.S. politics, the effects of partisanship on public opinion remain elusive. In this article, we use monthly economic opinion data disaggregated by partisanship to evaluate the role of party identification on economic perceptions. Using both static and time-varying error correction models, we find strong evidence of partisan bias in the public’s assessment of the state of the economy, and importantly, this bias changes over time. This evidence of the changing influence of partisanship helps reconcile some of the different findings of individual and aggregate level opinion studies. We also examine how the time-varying influence of partisanship affects aggregate public opinion. Specifically, we show that the increased influence of partisanship has led aggregate economic perceptions to respond more slowly to objective economic information.


Party identification Partisan bias Time series analysis Public opinion Economic perceptions 



We would like to thank Gary Jacobson for suggesting the CBS and Gallup questions about the public’s evaluation of the economy and for providing some of the data used to construct these series. We would also like to thank Paul Goren for helpful comments on an earlier version.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  2. 2.University of North Carolina at GreensboroGreensboroUSA

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