Seminar with Dr. Nick Vivyan (Durham University)
The title of the presentation "Measuring Issue Importance"
Gauging the degree to which the public care about different policy issues is a critical endeavor for political scientists, yet existing measurement approaches suffer from significant limitations. We provide a new survey-experimental approach for measuring the revealed importance voters attach to different positional issues which may or may not be the subject of active elite political debate in society. We combine information from (i) direct questions eliciting respondents’ positions on a number of issues and (ii) a conjoint experiment asking respondents’ to trade-off departures from their preferred positions on subsets of those issues. Applying this method to study the relative importance of 34 issues in the UK, we show that British voters tend to attach more importance to those issues that tap social liberal-conservative rather than economic left-right divisions and attach significant importance to some issues, like the death penalty, which are not presently the subject of active political debate.