New York University Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Navigation Skip to Sub Navigation

Egan Weighs Governing Costs of "Issue Ownership" in New Book

October 1, 2013

What are the costs of “issue ownership”? When it comes to governing, they include ignoring citizens’ preferences in devising legislation and implementing policies.

In Partisan Priorities: How Issue Ownership Drives and Distorts American Politics (Cambridge), Patrick Egan, an assistant professor in NYU's Wilf Family Department of Politics, notes that Americans consistently name Republicans as the party better at handling issues like national security and crime, while they trust Democrats on issues like education and the environment – a long-standing phenomenon called “issue ownership.”

Egan investigates the origins of issue ownership, revealing something unexpected: the parties deliver neither superior performance nor popular policies on the issues they “own.” Rather, he finds that Republicans and Democrats simply prioritize their owned issues with lawmaking and government spending when they are in power.

But this is problematic, Egan posits. One, since the parties tend to be ideologically rigid on the issues they own, politicians tend to ignore citizens' preferences when crafting policy on these issues, distorting the relationship between these preferences and public policies. Two, issue ownership becomes synonymous with perceived effectiveness, which diminishes lawmakers’ accountability.

“The fact that there is no detectable relationship between parties’ control of government and improvement on the issues the public says they are best able to ‘handle’ leaves few reasons for optimism about accountability,” Egan concludes. “When deciding which party is better able to handle a given issue, Americans appear to equate effort with results.”

This Article is in the following Topics:
Arts and Science, Research, Faculty

Type: Article

Egan Weighs Governing Costs of "Issue Ownership" in New Book

In Partisan Priorities: How Issue Ownership Drives and Distorts American Politics, Patrick Egan, an assistant professor in the Wilf Family Department of Politics, investigates the origins of issue ownership, revealing something unexpected: the parties deliver neither superior performance nor popular policies on the issues they “own.” Rather, he finds that Republicans and Democrats simply prioritize their owned issues with lawmaking and government spending when they are in power.


Search News



NYU In the News

NYU Received a Record Number of Applications

Capital New York reported NYU received a record 60,322 applications for the class of 2019, an increase of about 15 percent since last year.

NYU Students Help City Crack Down on Hookah Bars

Capital New York reported that NYU students helped New York City crack down on hookah bars that illegally include tobacco in their hookahs:

Rudin Center Study Says Mass Transit Helps Economic Mobility

The Wall Street Journal wrote about a report by Wagner’s Rudin Center that showed that mass transit could be more important than education in determining economic mobility.

Brennan Center Report Says Campaign Spending Has Jumped

Frontline did a piece about a report by the Brennan Center for Justice that said that campaign spending by outside groups has more than doubled in the last five years.

NYU’s Dorms Ranked Among the Best in the Nation

Hometalk.com ranked NYU’s student residences third in the country in its list of best college dorms.

 


NYU Footer