Partisan Alignment, Performance, and Citizen Approval of Political Actors

Daniel J. Lyons, Susan M. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


There is substantial evidence that citizen assessments of political actors and associated institutions are shaped by shared partisanship. However, much of this evidence comes from citizen evaluations of political actors who are policy generalists—officials elected with broad policy jurisdictions (e.g., chief executives and legislators). We suggest that citizen assessments of policy specialists—officials elected with relatively narrow policy jurisdictions (e.g., labor commissioners and education secretaries)—may be shaped to a lesser degree by shared partisan leanings than evaluations of policy generalists. Using a survey experiment, we find evidence that, among out-partisans, favorable performance information has a greater positive effect for specialists than generalists, highlighting one way in which shared partisanship may be less influential for evaluations of specialists. These results may help to provide insight into the diversity of partisanship we see across policy generalists and specialists within the same governments and have potential implications for accountability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1345-1357
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Politics Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • government approval
  • partisanship
  • state politics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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