Daniel Elazar, Bogus or Brilliant: A Study of Political Culture Across the American States

Daniel Elazar, Bogus or Brilliant: A Study of Political Culture Across the American States

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Daniel Elazar, Bogus or Brilliant: A Study of Political Culture Across the American States

American states each have individual political cultures which are important to our understanding of their political environments, behavior, and responses to particular issues. While voters probably do not consciously think about political culture and conform to that culture on election day, they seem to form cohesive clusters in different areas of the state, creating similar group political ideologies. Because of these similarities, it is possible to measure the dominant political culture within states or areas of a state, gaining insight into the mind-set of state residents. Whatever the state culture, whether liberal or conservative, participatory or exclusive, political culture identifies dominant, state-wide trends. The question remains whether there is an accurate way to measure this political culture phenomenon in the United States.

Many studies try to measure political culture within states, but some political scientists are wary of assigning state political cultures because such measurements may be of dubious empirical grounding. While the process may not be entirely empirically sound, different state political cultures seem to exist and demand further analysis. In 1966, Daniel Elazar published his now famous assessment of United States’ political cultures. His evaluation of state cultures has been the focus of much study and criticism over the past three decades. Elazar proposes that the political culture in the United States developed in different regions due to east to west migratory patterns moving across the continent. Patterns of political culture were established during the Western frontier migration, as individuals followed “lines of least resistance which generally led them due west from the immediately previous area of settlement” (Elazar, 1966: 99). As a result, like-minded individuals migrated together and stayed together, causing similar political ideology to transform into a dominant political culture (Elazar, 1994).

Political cultures are dominant in certain areas of the country due to westward expansion. Moralism characterizes communitarian-agrarian New England and the far northern states, while the agrarianism of the middle states is individualistic. Traditionalism dominates the South and its plantation agrarianism structure. Typically, moralistic political cultures focus on agrarianism, individualism on commerce, and traditionalism on aristocratic legitimacy. These differing foci help to categorize Elazar’s political cultures in the United States (Elazar 1984: 119, 122).

Elazar’s political culture typology divides state political culture into three dominant categories: moralist, individualist, and traditionalist. Moralists measure government by its commitment to the public good and concern for public welfare.

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Communal power, whether governmental or non-governmental, promotes positive change and places moral obligations on public officials. Democracy as a commonwealth concern idealistically promotes every citizen’s participation in the political process. By their very nature, moralistic cultures support greater government intervention politically, economically, and socially (Elazar 1984: 117-8).

Differing from moralists, individualists focus more intently on private concerns and work to limit community involvement in politics. Politicians try to regulate the distribution of favors in order to control government and, through politics, seek to better themselves socially, economically, and politically. The public good is less of an issue as politics centers on individual initiative and control. In this case, democracy functions as a marketplace where politicians rely on public demand and follow strict utilitarianism. Limiting community activity and encouraging individual initiative creates a marketplace where private enterprise eclipses the public good (Elazar 1984: 115-7).

The traditionalistic political culture is an elitist construct that tries to maintain the existing social order. There is an established hierarchy where those at the top dominate politics and government, discouraging any public participation that might undermine the politically powerful. Little initiative is taken by traditionalists simply because they must maintain the status quo rather than encourage changes in government. Much like moralists, individualists recognize government as a positive force in society, but one limited to an elite few. Traditionalists prefer hierarchical control and established elite power-holders (Elazar, 1984: 118-9).

The three dominant cultures often overlap within the states. It is unusual to find an entire state with the same dominant political culture, which necessitates the formation of subcultures. These subcultures consist of combinations of the dominant political cultures in states (Elazar, 1984).[1] Sharkansky (1969) develops a nine-point categorization of political culture as a quantification of Elazar’s typology. Sharkansky’s scale provides a numeric assignment for each political culture. By taking the average of the regional political cultures within states, a numeric variable is assigned to each state, determining its political culture label.[2] Combining these techniques with Elazar’s differing political cultures provides a means to compare political culture among states.

Hypotheses and Literature Review
Nardulli (1990) and others (Erikson 1987) have labeled Elazar’s political culture typology as impressionistic and difficult to replicate, questioning its utility. It is important to distinguish whether his moralist, individualist, and traditionalist labels are categorically useful and empirically accurate, prompting the questions modified from Nardulli’s text (1990: 290):

1. Do states think about politics in moralist, individualist, or traditionalist terms as Elazar suggests? and

2. Do states with Elazar’s political culture labels behave as he suggests?

These questions provide a foundation for my hypotheses and analysis.

Studying Elazar’s propositions to determine national acceptance, the broad categories of political behavior and policy outputs separate the data and reveal the political climate of each state (Fitzpatrick and Hero 1988). Hypotheses are segregated as either questions of behavior or policy which Morgan and Watson’s study (1991) supports. Ultimately, both categories work together to provide an accurate analysis, but posing these dichotomous categories places the hypotheses in proper context. Examining elements of political behavior and policy outputs in comparison to Elazar’s original typology provides a means to test state political culture.

Political behavior, the actions of both public officials and individuals, affects state political culture in a variety of ways. Partisan control of the state legislature gives an indication of the

[1] Elazar’s system of categorizing states is not empirically sound. He primarily examines migratory patterns and gives cultures descriptive titles which merely act as labels. His standard of assigning political culture to regions, based on his own evaluation of the state’s political culture rather than empirical research, is difficult to replicate for testing. However, it is valuable to examine the political tendencies of states and compare them to Elazar’s typology.

[2] The formula for calculating the numeric value for state political culture is: C = sum c n

where C is the numeric value assigned to the state’s political culture, c is each value that Elazar assigns to regions within a state, and n equals the number of political culture designations within a state. Sharkansky’s scale is not designed to suggest that traditionalist cultures with a rating of nine are any better than moralist cultures with a one. They are simply numerical representations of the various political culture types for ease of comparative analysis, as follows:

M=1 MT=2 MI=3 IM=4 I=5 IT=6 TI=7 TM=8 T=9,

where M is moralist, I is individualist, and T is traditionalist. States with a rating represented by two letters has the dominant culture type first, followed by a culture type with a relatively strong influence in the state. When calculating Elazar’s culture ratings using Sharkansky’s scale, Sharkansky has some mathematical errors. By recalculating the data for all three years, the most accurate measure of political culture is used.

voting trends in that state. For example, if a state has a divided legislature (i.e. the chambers controlled by different parties), the voters of that state desire a stronger system of partisan checks and balances. Most analyses of state partisanship examine presidential vote and ideology by state, such as Wright et al. (1985), using polling to measure state partisanship. Schiltz and Rainey (1978) suggest, using the Comparative State Elections Project of 1968, that there are stronger party identifiers in individualistic political cultures than in either moralistic or traditionalistic. However, Savage (1981) disagrees and argues that testing partisanship in reference to Elazar’s propositions is ineffective. Due to diverging opinions concerning partisanship, this study includes partisan presidential vote, ideology, and partisan control in state legislatures to provide a more accurate analysis.

Moralist cultures view political participation as an activity available to the entire community rather than a select few, resulting in a limited influence by parties. A more stringent system of checks and balances among state legislatures ensures pursuit of the public good rather than partisan politics. Similarly, parties themselves are of minimal importance in traditionalist political cultures due to the elitist construct of government. As a result,

H1: Moralistic and traditionalistic political cultures are more likely to have divided governments

than individualist political cultures.

Individualists view government as a marketplace where parties are vitally important because they coordinate individual enterprise, according to Elazar (1984: 115-9). Hence, individualist states probably have more highly partisan ideologies, resulting in less divided government.

Political behavior includes not only Congress but also presidential elections, indicating the partisan affiliation of voters in the state. Moralists are typically more interested in the public welfare, using government as an instrument to promote programs. Government intervention in both economic and social aspects of society is encouraged and expected. Individualists are more economically conservative and support a competitive marketplace while discouraging government intervention in society. Traditionalists also desire to limit the role of government in society by their anti-bureaucratic tendencies. Rather than initiating new programs and expanding government, they choose to conservatively maintain government with few changes (Elazar 1984: 115-9). Consequently:

H2: Both individualists and traditionalists are more likely to vote Republican for presidential

candidates than moralists.

Ideology is an important indication of candidate support. Moralist political cultures have greater support for government intervention throughout the community. In pursuit of the public good, government must be concerned with every citizen and foster appropriate programs. Both individualist and traditionalist political cultures differ because they are more conservative. Individualists are more concerned with social and economic self-improvement and are unaccustomed to initiating new social programs. Similarly, traditionalists try to benefit from politics, and with their anti-bureaucratic ideals, initiating social or economic programs is uncommon (Elazar, 1984: 115-9). As a result:

H3: Both individualists and traditionalists are more likely to be conservative than moralists.

State political ideology is examined by Holbrook-Provow and Poe (1987) as they test different means of measuring political ideology. They determine roll-call voting to be the best indicator of state political culture; however, roll-call voting does not accurately indicate the ideology of the constituency, only that of the officeholder. Renner (1998) advocates exit poll data as the most accurate measure of ideology among states in his analysis of 1996 exit poll data which is, therefore, used in this study.

Voter turnout varies with different political ideologies and is a strong indicator of political behavior. Turnout within a state depends on perceived efficacy of the vote and voter interest in government. Moralists encourage political participation as both the citizen’s and the officeholder’s responsibility. Because politics is the concern of every citizen, there is more amateur participation and average citizens feel empowered to vote; therefore:

H4: Voters in moralist political cultures are more likely to vote on election day than voters in

either individualistic or traditionalistic states.

This hypothesis coincides with Nardulli’s evidence (1990), finding that moralists encourage political participation the most. Little community intervention is encouraged in individualist political cultures, resulting in less interest in elections and voting. Traditionalists discourage mass political participation, granting political power to an elite group. There is little incentive to vote due to the predominant influence of incumbents and rarely competitive challengers (Elazar 1984: 115-9).

A research note by Schiltz and Rainey (1978) examines Elazar’s hypotheses and explores the frequency of voting. They speculate, with little supporting evidence, that moralist political cultures have the highest voter turnout, but their analysis concludes that Elazar is not correct in his culture assignments. Joslyn (1980) examines campaign advertising and its effects on culture and behavior, discovering that moralist states have a high level of political participation. Voter attitudes in different states determine the type of advertising used in campaigns by directing a specific message to a political culture.

Policy outputs, in addition to political behavior, affect state political culture in a variety of ways, including spending. Per capita welfare spending indicates the level of government intervention and emphasis on public welfare. Moralists encourage greater government intervention both socially and economically, leading them to have higher welfare spending per capita as a result of their concern for the public good. Thus:

H5: Moralist political cultures are more likely to have higher welfare spending than either

individualist or traditionalist states.

Neither individualists nor traditionalists are inclined to have high spending for welfare programs. Individualists encourage private initiative in society, resulting in minimal government financial support. Likewise, traditionalists’ hierarchical structure, in conjunction with their anti-bureaucratic tendencies, maintains the existing social order with few social programs (Elazar 1984: 115-9).

Miller’s analysis (1991) of government expenditures supports this hypothesis as he examines the relationships between social program spending and state political culture which confirms Elazar’s propositions. Moralist political cultures spend more and are concerned with substantive issues, while traditionalists spend less even though demand is comparable to other cultures. Concluding, Miller states that it is valuable and accurate to use government spending as an indicator of political culture.

Per capita state education spending is also indicative of a state’s political culture. Like his evaluations for welfare spending, Miller (1991) infers that spending for all social programs, including education, follows the same pattern and is a good indicator of political culture. Moralists encourage support of the public good, and because education is a vital aspect of society, moralists encourage education spending. Individualists respond to public demand and necessary programs that benefit society with increased spending for programs like education. Thus:

H6: Both moralist and individualist political cultures are more likely to have higher per capita

education spending than traditionalists.

Traditionalists oppose large amounts of spending for education programs because of their negative view of the marketplace, discouraging spending for even necessary social programs (Elazar, 1984: 115-9).

Education spending is often a reflection of the level of innovativeness in states. Innovativeness ratings reveal states’ initiative and response to changing conditions both within and between states. Active government intervention and concern for the public welfare encourage innovation in moralist cultures. Consequently:

H7: Moralist political cultures are more likely to be innovative than either individualist or

traditionalist political cultures.

Individualist political cultures are unlikely to innovate new programs and limit government intervention. Traditionalists are conservative and try to maintain existing order rather than initiating new programs (Elazar 1984: 115-9).

Walker (1969) provides the foundational research for comparative state policy innovativeness, assigning ratings based on the year of policy adoption and concluding that innovation exists. Gray (1973) continues the innovativeness study by examining education, welfare, and civil rights innovation, ultimately supporting Walker’s findings. Logue’s study (1999) supports innovation rankings and their relation to policy, building upon Walker’s work and capturing rankings for several types of innovation.[3]

Voter registration laws are an indication of innovativeness. Some states provide easy means for voter registration while other states have no voter registration laws at all to include the maximum number of individuals in the governing process. Moralist political cultures encourage community involvement in politics, valuing citizen input in elections and necessitating easier voter registration laws. As a result:

H8: Moralist political cultures are more likely to have more lenient voter registration laws than

either individualist or traditionalist political cultures.

King’s analysis (1994) of voter registration and turnout compared to political culture reinforces the above hypothesis. Even though voter registration does not assure turnout, King concludes that political cultures more open to individual participation, like moralist cultures, have less restrictive registration laws and higher levels of turnout. Individualists limit community intervention in politics, discouraging lenient registration laws. Similarly, the traditionalistic elitist idea of government limits involvement to those at the top of the social hierarchy, making voter registration more difficult because political involvement is discouraged (Elazar 1984: 115-9).

There are many ways to measure political culture in the United States, but gaining a representative sample of issues and decisions that make individual states unique is essential. Examining data from the 1990s, the two broad categories of political behavior and policy outputs distinguish data and identify trends in American states. Political behavior manifests itself in one form as candidate selection. Presidential vote for 1996, utilized in this study, represents the partisan support in each state, closely linked with political culture (Roper Center 1999: 51).[4] Ideology, again measured by exit polls from the 1996 presidential election, determines the percent of conservatives, an important determinant of state political culture (Roper Center 1999: 51).[5] Data for the state House of Representatives and the Senate in 1997 determine the partisan control of the state by indicating the number of Republicans in the state legislatures (Bureau of the Census 1998: 288). Some states have partisan divisions between houses or between the legislature and presidential vote, allowing for greater depth to the analysis.

In addition to political behavior in voting results, policy outputs are measured by state expenditures. Per capita welfare spending from fiscal year 1995 provides a comparative indication of states’ concern for its citizens and government intervention (Hovey and Hovey 1999: 296). Fiscal year 1995 per capita education spending again examines the amount of government intervention in states and gives an estimate of the importance placed on the public good (Hovey and Hovey 1999: 202).

Voting laws and turnout fall under both political behavior and policy outputs. Diverse voter registration laws provide a variety of opportunities to register and determine the ease with which citizens are able to vote. Examining the number of people utilizing each registration service in 1995-96 determines the availability of the registration process (Bureau of the Census 1998: 299).[6] While voting registration laws determine the government’s regulation of voting, voter turnout measures citizen participation in the election process. The percentage of a state population that votes, using 1996 data, displays state participation (Hovey and Hovey 1999: 111).

Innovativeness is also an important measure of state political culture. Logue’s innovativeness scale (1999) describes a state’s willingness to be proactive in policy and program development. Some states are very innovative and set a national precedent, while others have little interest in new programs.

The eight hypotheses address important variables contributing to the political culture of states, but the inclusion of state demographics provides a more accurate portrayal of the cultural landscape. Per capita income from 1997 examines the people of the state, how states with higher or lower average incomes behave differently, and whether income determines which people gather together in a political culture type (Hovey and Hovey 1999: 38). Percent metropolitan population within states from 1996 captures state diversity (Bureau of the Census 1998: 40). Examining the state enrollment rate for public elementary and secondary schools in 1995 produces a broad, if somewhat imperfect, generalization of the education level in the state (Bureau of the Census 1998: 40). Finally, region, whether a state is south or non-south determined by Confederate status, also analyzes whether political culture is influenced by or measures the same thing as region.

To examine political culture relationships, this study utilizes correlation matrixes and means tests to study variable relationships. Regression analyses explore the relationships between independent variables and four dependent variables: voter turnout, education spending, welfare sending, and innovativeness. In the regression analysis, there is a measure of political culture types using dummy variables. The variables “moralist” and “individualist” are a measure of each compared to traditionalist cultures.

Data Analysis
To begin, correlation matrixes were created. Few relationships in the matrix indicate parallel measures, with only one correlation greater than .70. Republican presidential vote and conservative ideology (.767) are, not surprisingly, closely correlated. The only other relevant correlations among independent variables are between conservative ideology and income (-.663, p< 0.01), percent metropolitan and income (.679, p< 0.01), Republican presidential vote and per capita welfare spending (-.650, p< 0.01), and Republican partisan control of the states’ House of Representatives and Republican presidential vote (.671, p< 0.01). All of these relationships are logical interactions between variables and have no negative effect on the analysis of state political cultures.

A difference of means test compares the means of each of the political variables across each of three categories of political culture, showing the difference between each of the three pairings (i.e. moralist minus individualist or individualist minus traditionalist, etc.). These results appear in Table 1. By comparing the means, these figures identify the political dimensions along which political culture makes a difference. Comparing moralist and individualist states, the only variable that shows a difference across the culture categories is voter turnout. This finding corresponds with Hypothesis 4.

Examining the differences between moralist and traditionalist states, three variables emerge when a difference of means test is applied. Voter turnout, income, and education spending are all significantly different across culture categories, suggesting that they are each good determinants of political culture in moralist and traditionalist states. These results are intuitive after studying Elazar’s culture types. Moralist and traditionalist states are said to be very different in the way that they spend money for education, since most traditionalist states are in the south, and southern states often spend less on education. Geography appears to be a real driving force in this analysis more than political culture per se. Likewise, demographics are very different across cultures, with residents of moralist states typically having higher incomes than residents of traditionalist states. Finally, moralistic states encourage voter participation and turnout, while traditionalistic states do so much less, which is reflected in the data that show voter turnout as a significant measure of culture type.

The last difference of means test compares individualist and traditionalist states. Only income and education vary significantly in this comparison. Individualist states are more likely than traditionalist states to spend money on education because education spending indicates an interest in greater social equality. Similarly, income is very different between individualist and traditionalist states, which is a function of their geographic location, coinciding with Elazar’s proposals. Even though the results of these tests may seem like a reiteration of Elazar’s ideas, it is important to test his propositions empirically instead of merely relying on Elazar’s thoughtful but still impressionistic approach. These difference of means tests highlight variation between state political culture types. The key finding is that most of the correlations indicate few cross-cultural differences along the various political and economic dimensions, suggesting that Elazar’s typology does not accurately depict measurable differences among states.

Even though they measure different things, region appears to be a better measure than political culture types by explaining more of the variables (voter turnout, income, education spending, ideology, and education spending). This provides a more complete picture of the effects of the variables that either political culture type. Therefore, even though region and political culture measure different things, in this correlation analysis region appears to be a better determinant of political behavior and policy outputs.

A second correlation matrix measuring the interactions of different voter registration laws across states indicates that registration variables measure different things because there are no correlations greater than .6. (See Table 2) Motor vehicle office registration correlates most frequently with other variables in the analysis. Its correlations with mail registration (-.459), state designated sites (-.315), and other methods of registration (-.564) are all negative (all significant at 0.05 or better), indicating that as the percent of motor vehicle office registrations increases, the percent of these three other variables decreases. A similar negative correlation with an inverse relationship exists between mail registration and other forms of registration (-.356,

p<0.05). Public assistance office registration and disability service registration have the only significant, positive correlation (.313, p<0.05). These data, while showing interesting internal relationships, explain very little of Elazar’s political culture typology. The registration hypothesis (Hypothesis 8) is neither confirmed nor unconfirmed with the limited data available for voter registration laws.

Regression analyses test the four dependent variables of voter turnout, education spending, welfare spending, and innovativeness. (See Table 3) The regression equation testing voter turnout explains 58% of the variation in the dependent variable. Moralist political cultures are significant at the 0.05 level, indicating that as the difference between moralism and traditionalism increases in the states, voter turnout also increases. Significant correlations indicate that moralism is a good indicator for voter turnout, confirming the Hypothesis 4, that moralist political cultures are more likely to have higher voter turnout. Moralism measured with voter turnout is a good indicator of political culture.

Other variables in the regression output are also important indicators when measured with voter turnout. Individualists are good indicators of political culture if the significance level (0.095) is extended from the 0.05 to the 0.1 level because it has a fairly high t-value (1.715).[8] Because moralism and individualism are both significant, voter turnout provides a good measure for political culture in the states. Both percent metropolitan and education enrollment are significant (0.001 and 0.008, respectively) and have an inverse relationship with voter turnout which means as percent metropolitan and education enrollment increase, voter turnout decreases. Voter turnout, though not perfect, is the best model produced by this study for confirming the hypotheses.

Regression model for education spending (Hypothesis 6) is significant (0.04) at the 0.05 level and explains 41% of the variation, but none of the variables are significant. Income is the only variable close to significance (0.095). If, however, the significance level for income is extended to 0.1, it allows exploration of the relationship. There is a positive relationship between income and education spending, meaning as income increases, education spending increases. Neither individualist nor moralist cultures are significant and cannot be used to confirm the culture ideas, in this case.

The welfare spending model is a better model, explaining 58% of the variation in the dependent variable. Individualist and moralist variables both do heavy lifting in the equation with t-values of 1.970 and 1.155, respectively. Neither, however, are significant unless the individualist significance level is again extended to 0.1, but the model has limited analytical value. As the difference between individualism and traditionalism increases, welfare spending increases, which does not confirm the hypothesis because, according to Elazar, moralism is supposed to encourage welfare spending. (Hypothesis 5) Also in this model, Republican presidential vote (.027, significant at the 0.05 level) has an inverse relationship with welfare spending. Therefore, as the Republican vote increases, welfare spending decreases, which is intuitive. (Hypothesis 2)

Political culture has little baring on the regression for innovativeness. The model explains 54% of the variation, but neither political culture variable is significant. Only the variables for divided legislature and the percent metropolitan are significant. Percent metropolitan of the states, significant (.014) and positively correlated with innovativeness, logically effects state innovation, since more urban and metropolitan areas require more innovation than their rural counterparts.

Senate and House variables address the issue of divided government and which party has control over a state legislature. (Hypothesis 1) An inverse relationship exists in the Senate (0.01, significant at the 0.01 level) where as Republican dominance in the Senate increases, innovativeness decreases. Conversely, as divided governments with Republican dominance in the House (0.04, significant at the 0.05 level) increase, innovativeness also increases. Differences between Congressional responses is curious, but unexplainable by these data and outside the scope of this study. The strength of both Senate and House beta weights (-2.725 and 2.131, respectively) suggests that innovativeness is influenced by state legislatures and their partisan make-up.

Conclusions and Future Research
Variables and data in this analysis do not confirm Elazar’s classification of political culture. Elazar’s moralist, individualist, and traditionalist labels are more of an arbitrary classification than an empirical measurement. This is evident after analysis of objective political and economic data from the states. While the analysis and model for testing his proposals is not deficient and the range of political behavior and policy output variables must be included in the design, the results do not confirm all of the hypotheses.

The hypothesis that moralists are more likely to vote than either individualists or traditionalists is the only one supported by the data (Hypothesis 4). Both moralism and individualism are significant at the 0.1 level which allows examination of these variables and their interaction with voter turnout. All of the other hypotheses are either unconfirmed or have no substantial evidence to link them to political culture which rules out Elazar’s typology as an accurate measure of political culture across the American states. Re-examining the two original research questions, 1) states, in fact, do not think about politics as Elazar suggests, and 2) states with Elazar’s political culture labels do not behave as he suggests. Throughout this study, demographics are more often significant and actually have a greater effect on policy outputs than political culture types, yet there is empirical validity to the direct comparison of variables.

Despite the unconfirmed evidence of this study, it is still valuable because by knowing what is not confirmed, future research can develop new measures for political culture questions (Lowery and Sigelman 1982). Not offering conclusive evidence for Elazar’s proposals lends some support to other ideas debunking his typology. In addition, this opens the possibility for new and more pointed research in the sub-field of political culture. This study does not suggest that culture is nonexistent but rather that culture manifests itself in different forms than Elazar suggests.

The current study uses data from 1996 to the present to analyze the variables and Elazar’s political culture proposals. However, Elazar’s studies were conducted in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, which may not correspond to data from the 1990s. Using data from those three decades and comparing over time suggest whether Elazar’s typology was useful in the past and simply lost its utility with changing political climates. This test is outside of the scope of this project but valuable for future study. A limitation to the study is that policy outputs are all measured with rates (either percentages or monetary rates), but there are other ways to examine policy outputs that may have more favorable interactions with Elazar’s political culture types, also suitable for future research.

Finally, the crux of the matter lies in the title: Is Daniel Elazar bogus or brilliant? Based on his migratory pattern suggestions and his in-depth analysis of states, Elazar is very knowledgeable about political culture. His system defining and categorizing political culture is laudable, but he utilizes an unempirical measurement system. The lack of empiricism increases the difficulty in extrapolating Elazar’s ideas over time and across the American states. Whether his typology is too broadly based or too arbitrary is debatable, but his model makes replicating and testing his ideas almost impossible.


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____. 1984. American Federalism: A View from the States. New York: Harper and Row.

____. 1994. The American Mosaic: The Impact of Space, Time, and Culture on American

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[1] Elazar’s system of categorizing states is not empirically sound. He primarily examines migratory patterns and gives cultures descriptive titles which merely act as labels. His standard of assigning political culture to regions, based on his own evaluation of the state’s political culture rather than empirical research, is difficult to replicate for testing. However, it is valuable to examine the political tendencies of states and compare them to Elazar’s typology.

[2] The formula for calculating the numeric value for state political culture is: C = sum c


where C is the numeric value assigned to the state’s political culture, c is each value that Elazar assigns to regions within a state, and n equals the number of political culture designations within a state. Sharkansky’s scale is not designed to suggest that traditionalist cultures with a rating of nine are any better than moralist cultures with a one. They are simply numerical representations of the various political culture types for ease of comparative analysis, as follows:

M=1 MT=2 MI=3 IM=4 I=5 IT=6 TI=7 TM=8 T=9,

where M is moralist, I is individualist, and T is traditionalist. States with a rating represented by two letters has the dominant culture type first, followed by a culture type with a relatively strong influence in the state. When calculating Elazar’s culture ratings using Sharkansky’s scale, Sharkansky has some mathematical errors. By recalculating the data for all three years, the most accurate measure of political culture is used.

[3] Logue reverses Walker’s scale by assigning the first state to adopt policy a score of one and the last a score of zero. One point is added to the first 49 states and the preliminary score is multiplied by the number of states that have yet to adopt the policy. Finally, state scores are divided by the number of policies examined. Special thanks to Dennis E. Logue for contributing his unpublished article for use in this study.

[4] Third party candidates are not included in this study. The data is from exit polls collected after the 1996 election.

[5] Moderates are ignored in this study because the liberal/conservative dichotomy is most useful to analyze political culture.

[6] The sources of voter registration used in this study are: motor vehicle offices, by mail, public assistance offices, disability services, armed forces offices, state designated sites, and all other services. The utility of this data is to determine the ease with which citizens can register. Presumably, a state with more options for registration or a state with no registration laws at all are more interested in citizen involvement in the political process than states that restrict the number of ways citizens can register.

[7] The M, I, and T notations represent moralist, individualist, and traditionalist political cultures, respectively. All measures are with equal variances assumed.

[8] Nothing concrete can be measured from the data using a 0.1 significance level. This procedure, while not standard practice, simply allows for further data manipulation.

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