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Confidence in Institutions Before, During, and After “Indecision 2000”

Authors


Vincent Price is Steven H. Chaffee Professor of Communication and Political Science, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6220 (vprice@asc.upenn.edu).

Anca Romantan is Ph.D. candidate of communication, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6220 (aromantan@asc.upenn.edu).

Abstract

The disputed outcome of the 2000 presidential election provides an opportunity to examine changes in public confidence in various political institutions at a time when these were under unusual stress. The present research draws upon three-wave panel data. Measures of confidence were asked in August, December, and February. Particular institutions show distinct patterns, in line with their salient roles in the crisis. Confidence in the Supreme Court polarized considerably along partisan lines as a direct function of opinions about the Court's decision. Confidence in the Presidency, already polarized in August, shows weakening polarization and reverses direction upon Bush's inauguration. Confidence in Congress increased significantly, with no growth in polarization. Findings confirm that confidence in various institutions has dynamic components related to both “diffuse” and “specific” support.

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