The Ambivalent Partisan: How Critical Loyalty Promotes Democracy


Over the past half-century, two overarching topics have dominated the study of mass political behaviour: How do ordinary citizens form their political judgments, and how good are they from a normative perspective? This book provides a novel goal-based approach to these questions, one that compels a wholesale rethinking of the roots of responsible democratic citizenship. The central claim of the book is that partisan identity comes in qualitatively different forms, with distinct political consequences. Blind partisan loyalty, as the pejorative label implies, facilitates bias and reduces attention to valuable information. Critical loyalty, by doing the opposite, outperforms standard measures of political engagement in leading to normatively desirable judgments. Drawing on both experimental and survey methods-as well as five decades of American political history-this book examines the nature and quality of mass political judgment across a wide range of political contexts, from perceptions of the economy, to the formation, updating, and organization of public policy preferences, to electoral judgment and partisan change. Contrary to much previous scholarship, the empirical findings reveal that rational judgment-holding preferences that align with one's material interests, values, and relevant facts-does not hinge on cognitive ability. Rather, breaking out of the apathy-versus-bias prison requires critical involvement, and critical involvement requires critical partisan loyalty.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Lavine, HG; Johnston, CD; Steenbergen, MR

Published Date

  • January 24, 2013

Start / End Page

  • 1 - 318

International Standard Book Number 13 (ISBN-13)

  • 9780199772759

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199772759.001.0001

Citation Source

  • Scopus