Are some people more prone to instabilities in partisanship due to the ways they rank and organize their core values? We investigate the mechanisms of partisan volatility, considering whether instabilities reflect value conflict and ambivalence. Our expectation is that when the basic values of the American ethos come into conflict in elite discourse, citizens have difficulty reconciling their own value arrangement with that of elites, resulting in greater partisan volatility. To this end, we use several heteroscedastic regression and ordered probit models to explore whether the conflict of competing values explains the response variance and instability of individual-level partisanship and ideology over time. To construct measures of value conflict, we rely on data from the 1992, 1994 and 1996 American National Election Studies. We find that, while instabilities in partisan identification reflect low information for some, the competition of core values generates volatility in partisan affiliations for others. In deliberating the value tradeoffs of politics, people may be of two minds even about central beliefs such as party identification.