Gregory Huber, Ph.D., Princeton University 2001, is the Forst Family Professor of Political Science and resident fellow of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies. He is the Associate Director of the Center for the Study of American Politics and the Director of the ISPS Behavioral Research Lab (https://isps.yale.edu/yale-isps-behavioral-research-lab). His research interests are in American Politics and Political Economy, including work on political institutions and behavior. For a complete listing of ongoing research as well as current and former graduate students and postdocs, see http://huber.research.yale.edu/.
Do people have meaningful policy preferences? Despite the normative importance often given to the answer to this question, we have remarkably little direct data about the structure of policy reference profiles or their stability over time. We highlight the theoretical importance of ideological coherence and stability as appropriate measures of the nature of policy preferences, rather than ideological constraint. Using a novel survey online instrument and employing a panel design we find evidence that a surprising number of individuals have ideologically coherent policy preferences and stable most preferred policies. Additionally, we explore the nature of deviations from coherence and stability, showing that deviations often reflect indifference rather than radical incoherence.