Measuring Executive Ideology and Its Influence

Executives are important elites, and ideology is important to elite behavior, but measurement challenges and a focus on the presidency have kept scholars from fully exploring executive ideology. This article advocates studying US governors to learn more about executive ideology. It provides an overview of the data scholars can use to measure gubernatorial preferences, and highlights Bonica’s campaign finance-based ideology scores (CFscores) as offering the greatest coverage and allowing common-scale comparisons with other actors. As a validation exercise, I find that CFscores explain within-party variation in other measures and predict the decisions that governors make when in office. Then, I run a preliminary test of the substantive importance of executive ideology. Four models explain state policy liberalism as a function of executive, legislative, and citizen ideology. Gubernatorial preferences emerge as most predictive of the three. These results encourage greater investigation into the role of executive ideology in the policy process.

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License CC BY
Type Journal Articles
C-ID POLS 110 - American