Jennings, Will and Wlezien, Christopher
Distinguishing between most important problems and issues?
Public Opinion Quarterly, 75, (3), Autumn Issue, . (doi:10.1093/poq/nfr025).
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To measure the importance of political issues, scholars traditionally have relied on a survey question that asks about the “most important problem” (MIP) facing the nation. Increasingly, scholars are relying on a variant that asks about the “most important issue” (MII). While we have learned quite a lot about what MIP captures, especially over time, we know little about MII. Using newly compiled data from the United Kingdom, this article examines differences in the two items and their dynamics. The results of our analyses reveal that MII responses are strikingly similar to MIP responses. While they may be slightly closer to a valid indicator of issue importance, MII responses mostly reflect variation in assessments of problem status. An effective measure of issue importance remains elusive.
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