Patrick Egan

Patrick Egan is a Ph.D. candidate in the Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. He studies public opinion, public policy, and their relationship in American politics using formal and empirical research methods. His dissertation, titled “Issue Ownership and Representation in the United States,” examines how “issue ownership”--the varying degree to which the American public trusts the two parties to handle different policy issues--allows candidates and parties to take positions that are unresponsive to public opinion. In the dissertation, the concept of issue ownership is incorporated in a formal model of two-party electoral competition. This generates the prediction that candidates exploit issue ownership to take positions that are more extreme than the preferences of the typical voter. The theory is confirmed by examining the relationship between opinion in Congressional districts (drawn from the National Annenberg Election Survey) and Congressional roll-call votes cast on a range of issues.