The “Trump Effect” Has a Significant Impact on the Perceived Ideology of Republican Candidates, According to New Research

Supporting or opposing former President Donald Trump has an impact on the perceived ideology of Republican candidates, according to new findings published in the Journal. American Political Research, The new study indicates that pro-Trump Republicans are viewed as more “conservative” than anti-Trump Republicans, even when policy issues are held steady.

Amira, an associate professor of political science at the College of Charleston, explained, “I’ve been interested in ideological labeling from the first day I started graduate school.” “When Donald Trump became president and began acting in ways that were contrary to traditional conservatism (example: starting a trade war and being friendly with autocrats like Putin), I wanted to know what effect he had on the ideological label. Will happen.”

“There are many ways to do this, but two other researchers named Hopkins and Noel provided a starting point for me. In their study on perceptions of legislator ideology, they observed that members of Congress—like Ben Sasse—who openly Trump He was criticized as being more on the left than his conservative voting record. The opposite was happening for openly pro-Trump members of Congress such as Lindsey Graham. He was seen as more conservative than his relatively moderate voting record. I took it from there and expanded on his work.”

In the new study, 416 adults recruited from the Prolific platform read a profile for a (fictional) Republican candidate who was launching a national campaign for the US House of Representatives. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: the profile either described the candidate as pro-Trump, as a critic of Trump, or did not mention Trump (control position). In all the three profiles, the issue status of the candidates was exactly the same.

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After reading the profiles, participants were asked to rank the candidate on a 7-point ideological scale ranging from extremely liberal to extremely conservative. Amira found that the candidate’s ideology in the control position had an average rating of 4.85, which ranged between “moderate” and “somewhat conservative”.

As expected, the candidate was perceived as more conservative when he was described as a Trump supporter and less conservative when he was described as a Trump critic. But being a Trump supporter had a greater impact on perceived ideology than being a Trump critic. Being a Trump supporter moved the candidate nearly one unit (0.77) in the conservative direction, while being a Trump critic moved the candidate only 0.38 units in the liberal direction.

This finding suggests that “there is a ‘Trump effect’ in the way people view politicians’ ideologies right now,” Amira told PsyPost. “Republican politicians who openly embrace Donald Trump may be perceived as more ‘conservative’ than they really are. The opposite can be said for Republican politicians who oppose Trump – they really are can be seen as more liberal than they are. My studies show that it is causal, meaning that there is something unique about supporting or opposing Trump that is affecting this perception.

Interestingly, political participation and political knowledge did not significantly affect the results. Participants who were highly engaged and knowledgeable about politics were no different from those who were less engaged and less knowledgeable.

The researchers also asked participants whether they thought Republican candidates were in other positions that were not mentioned in their profiles. Compared to the control candidate, participants thought the pro-Trump candidate was associated with electoral fraud, support for a border wall and ICE agents, opposing COVID guidelines, opposing veteran politicians, supporting aggressive policing, and supporting the Russian government. more likely to believe.

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“It’s hard to know what exactly is driving this ‘Trump effect.’ It may be that anyone who ‘cheerleads’ for Trump is automatically seen as more conservative because Trump is a Republican. And Republicans tend to be conservative,” Amira said.

“It could also be that the people who ‘cheerlead’ for Trump have other Trump-like issues like being tough on immigration. Perhaps that issue is now taken for granted, and that’s what’s driving the perception.” I examine these possibilities a bit in the paper, but the conclusion is not certain. There is much more to uncover.”

The study was conducted in May of 2022, ahead of a public hearing conducted by the US House Select Committee on the January 6 attack.

“Ever since Trump lost in 2020, Republicans like Liz Cheney and Adam Kizinger have spoken out very publicly against Trump as members of the January 6 committee. Some other Republicans voted to impeach him. Once the data is available, we need to see how Americans view the ideology of these legislators,” Amira said.

“In theory, Liz Cheney should be regarded as very conservative, as she holds a fairly conservative issue position (and is trying to preserve democracy). But since she majorly criticized Donald Trump so it may influence how people view his ideology. He and Kizinger would be a great additional test for this research.”

The study, “The Impact of Donald Trump on Those Considered ‘Conservatives'”, was published July 7, 2022.

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