Research conducted by BYU Professors Michael Barber and Jeremy Pope was featured prominently in an article in the New York Times on September 14, 2017.
The aforementioned article was written by New York Times Opinion and Contributing Op-Ed writer Thomas B. Edsall entitled: “Trump Says Jump. His Supporters Ask, How High?”
The article stated that three prominent teams of US political scholars, including Barber and Pope, all agree in their recent studies that, “politics is less a competition of ideas and more a struggle between two competing teams.”
According to Barber and Pope in their recent paper “Does Party Trump Ideology? Disentangling Party and Ideology in America,” many Republican voters are, “malleable to the point of innocence, and self-reported expressions of ideological fealty are quickly abandoned for policies that—once endorsed by a well-known party leader—run contrary to that expressed ideology.”
The Barber-Pope study suggests that, for many Republicans, partisan identification is more a tribal affiliation than an ideological commitment.
While elites – elected officials and party activists—are ideologically polarized, the best the general public “can manage is a kind of tribal partisanship that does not really reflect the content of the elite discussion.”
Pope wrote: “Citizens pick a team, but they don’t naturally think like the team leadership does. And when Trump tells Republicans to think in a new way, lots of people happily adopt that new position because they were never that committed to the old ideas anyway. They’re just committed to the label.”
In other words, Trump’s strongest supporters are likely to back him despite his violations of Republican orthodoxy.
For more information regarding how the study was conducted and its subsequent results, read the article following the link below: