Political support for incomplete democracies: Realist vs. idealist theories and measures

William Mishler, Richard Rose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

136 Scopus citations


Democratic regimes depend for their survival and effective functioning on the public's willing acquiescence and support; however, the measurement of support is problematic. The failure to appreciate the difference between established democracies and new regimes that may (or may not) be in the process of democratizing has prompted scholars to mismeasure support by relying on idealist measures. We propose a realist conception of political support and realist measures. We test these measures with data from the 1995-97 World Values Surveys, comparing their ability to describe and explain variations in support for both old and new regimes. Realist measures perform substantially better in all contexts and in ways that suggest the rationality of realist support.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-320
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Political Science Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2001


  • Democracy
  • Democratization
  • Legitimacy
  • Measurement
  • Political support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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