Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Political Science

First Advisor

Conor Dowling

Second Advisor

Julie Wronski

Third Advisor

Miles Armaly


University of Mississippi

Relational Format



In the United States today the two parties struggle to find common ground on anything, and strong partisan attachments lead many members of the public to follow the lead of their preferred party on nearly every political decision. However, the sorting of the public does not mean that the parties are monoliths. The Democratic Party in particular is composed of a wide range of groups which often do not easily come to consensus when there are decisions to be made. The occasional lack of consensus within the Democratic Party leads to questions about how the party as a whole is able to make decisions. During the party’s primaries or when controversial policies become salient partisans are not able to rely on cues from their party as they normally would. In this dissertation I seek to determine what factors play into partisan’s candidate and policy preferences when partisanship cannot. I first examine the impact of group sentiments on candidate preferences in primary elections, then I investigate whether partisan follow the lead of politicians on salient and controversial policy proposals or whether their preferences are driven by their core political values, and finally I seek to determine the relationship between group sentiments and core political values. I show that group sentiments not only shape candidate preferences in primaries, but also that core values shape policy preferences on controversial issues and those values that people hold are in turn influenced by group sentiments. I conclude that group sentiments have a pervasive impact over a great deal of intraparty dynamics and understanding this impact and the other factors that influence intraparty dynamics would help us more fully understand political behavior.


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