In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Public Opinion in Affluent Democracies

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Journals
  • Primary Sources
  • Religious Orientations and Politics

Political Science Public Opinion in Affluent Democracies
Russell J. Dalton
  • LAST REVIEWED: 03 December 2020
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 February 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0046


Public-opinion research ranges from political attitudes to understanding family life in sociology to consumer confidence surveys in economics. This article covers some of the major resources for studying and understanding opinions on political topics in the United States and other affluent democracies. It describes the major books on the content and methodology of public-opinion research as a guide to current scholarship. In addition, the article includes information on primary resources and journals emphasizing research on political attitudes. Many of the large-scale US and international public-opinion projects also provide the survey data and additional information on their research topics, and these projects are listed in the various sections of the article.

General Overviews

There are two types of general introductions to this field. The first are textbooks that outline key concepts and findings in public-opinion research. Most focus on the United States (such as Aldrich, et al. 2019; Erikson and Tedin 2015; and Theiss-Morse, et al. 2018). Dalton 2019 examines public opinion in affluent democracies. The second set of books consists of handbooks or collections that summarize existing research on the nature and content of public opinion. Leighley and Edwards 2010 describes attitudes of the American public, and Shapiro and Jacobs 2011 examines the interaction of public opinion and the media; other handbooks cover public opinion in established democracies or across global regions (Dalton and Klingemann 2007; Fisher, et al. 2018).

  • Aldrich, John, Jamies Carson, Brad T. Gomez, and David W. Rohde. Change and Continuity in the 2016 Elections. Thousand Oaks, CA: CQ, 2019.

    In addition to a focused discussion of the 2016 elections, this textbook describes the evolution of American electoral behavior from 1952 until 2016.

  • Dalton, Russell. Citizen Politics: Public Opinion and Political Parties in Advanced Industrial Democracies. 7th ed. Washington, DC: CQ, 2019.

    A cross-national comparison of public opinion, political participation, and electoral behavior for the United States, Britain, France, Germany, and other democracies.

  • Dalton, Russell, and Hans-Dieter Klingemann, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Political Behavior. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

    DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199270125.001.0001

    A collection of nearly fifty essays summarizing the state of research in each area: mass belief systems and communication, social modernization and social change, political values, participation, electoral behavior, and political representation.

  • Donsbach, Wolfgang, and Michael Traugott, eds. The SAGE Handbook of Public Opinion Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2007.

    This collection focuses on the methodology of public-opinion research and its usage. It also includes sections on public-opinion formation and the broad characteristics of public opinions.

  • Erikson, Robert, and Kent Tedin. American Public Opinion: Its Origins, Content, and Impact. 9th ed. Boston: Pearson, 2015.

    This text describes public opinion in the United States and factors affecting electoral behavior.

  • Fisher, Justin, Edward fieldhouse, Mark N. Franklin, Rachel Gibson, Marta Cantijoch, and Christopher Wlezien, eds. The Routledge Handbook of Elections, Voting Behavior and Public Opinion. London: Routledge, 2018.

    A large collection of essays describes various aspects of voting behavior and public opinion cross-nationally, and how these factors shape electoral participation and electoral choice.

  • Leighley, Jan, and George Edwards III, eds. The Oxford Handbook of American Elections and Political Behavior. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

    DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199235476.001.0001

    This collection examines aspects of political behavior relevant to elections: political participation, vote choice, presidential and nonpresidential elections, and the public’s issue interests.

  • Shapiro, Robert, and Lawrence Jacobs, eds. The Oxford Handbook of American Public Opinion and the Media. Oxford Handbooks of American Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

    This collection examines the interrelationship of public opinion, the mass media, and the democratic governing process in the United States.

  • Theiss-Morse, Elizabeth, Michael Wagner, William Flanigan, and Nancy Zingale. Political Behavior of the American Electorate. 14th ed. Washington, DC: CQ, 2018.

    A concise review of many of the main themes in American political behavior and the empirical evidence on each theme.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.