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Public preferences for Zika policy and responsibility in the absence of partisan cues

  • Jennifer M. Connolly (a1), Casey Klofstad (a1), Joseph Uscinski (a1) and Jonathan West (a1)

In the absence of partisan ownership of an issue, what factors shape public preferences for federal, state and local policy action? The Zika virus provides a unique context in which to examine this question, as it is a new threat to public health in the United States and lacks clear partisan ownership. We examine (1) which Zika policies do citizens support, (2) at which level(s) of government and (3) what factors explain citizen assignment of policy responsibility to different levels of government? Using nationally representative survey data, we find that the three most popular policy responses to Zika are travel warnings, research funding and public education, with the federal government being the preferred policy actor. In the absence of clear partisan issue ownership, we find that Republicans are significantly more likely to prefer state policy action, while partisanship has no impact on public preferences for federal or local policy action.

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Cite this article: Connolly J. M, Klofstad C, Uscinski J, West J. 2019. Public preferences for Zika policy and responsibility in the absence of partisan cues. Journal of Public Policy X: 1–26, doi:10.1017/S0143814X19000011

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