Ethos, ideology, and partisanship: Exploring the paradox of conservative democrats

Edward G. Carmines, Michael Berkman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Despite the increasingly liberal cast of the national Democratic Party, self-identified conservatives continue to represent a significant segment of the party. At least 25 percent of Democratic identifiers considered themselves to be conservatives during the 1972-1988 period. This paper explores the puzzle of why significant numbers of political conservatives continue to identify with the Democratic Party. We argue that conservative Democrats relate to their party not because of political ideology, as do Republicans and to a lesser extent, liberal/moderate Democrats, but because of the symbolic values associated with the main groups in the party-what we refer to as "party ethos." This proposition is examined by analyzing a new set of open-ended questions included in the 1988 American National Election Study probing citizens' images and assessments of the Republican and Democratic parties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-218
Number of pages16
JournalPolitical Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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