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Brace, Sims-Butler, Arceneaux, and Johnson: Public opinion in the American states

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State Politics

Brace, Sims-Butler, Arceneaux, and Johnson. 2002. Public opinion in the American states: New perspectives using national data. American Journal of Political Science 46: 173-189.

The authors think that Erikson et al ('Statehouse Democracy') had a good idea, but their data was too general; Erikson et al looked only at state-level data about ideology, partisanship, and policy outcomes. This article develops measures of more specific data, derived from pooled GSS studies: attitudes in each state about specific issues (namely tolerance, racial integration, abortion, religiosity, homosexuality, feminism, capital punishment, welfare, and environment). Using the same methods that Erikson et al used (in chapter 2), the authors show that these indicators are reliable and valid.

CRITICISM: Their tests of validity assume a connection between the nine issue indicators and "related" real-world outcomes. For example, they conclude that "religiosity" is valid because it correlates with the percent of a state's citizens that are fundamentalist. They conclude that "racial integration" is valid because it correlates with state opposition to affirmative action. These links are tenuous.