Estimating the between-issue variation in party elite cue effects


Party elite cues are among the most well-established influences on citizens’ political opinions. Yet, there is substantial variation in effect sizes across studies, constraining the generalizability and theoretical development of party elite cues research. Understanding the causes of variation in party elite cue effects is thus a priority for advancing the field. In this paper, I estimate the variation in party elite cue effects that is caused simply by heterogeneity in the policy issues being examined, through a reanalysis of data from existing research combined with an original survey experiment comprising 34 contemporary American policy issues. My estimate of the between-issue variation in effects is substantively large, plausibly equal to somewhere between one-third and two-thirds the size of the between-study variation observed in the existing literature. This result has important implications for our understanding of party elite influence on public opinion and for the methodological practices of party elite cues research.

Public Opinion Quarterly
Ben Tappin
Research Fellow