DIGSSCORE Seminar: Problem Importance across Time and Space

T. Murat Yildirim
Cody Drolc

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Tevfik Murat Yildirim, Associate Professor at the University of Stavanger, will present for us today. His presentation is titled "Problem Importance across Time and Space".

The event is in a hybrid format, you are welcome to join us for lunch from the Corner room at DIGSSCORE. Food is provided on a first-come first-served basis. Zoom link for digital attendance.



The Most Important Problem question (and its variants), which has been the subject of extensive research focusing on public issue salience, is one of the few survey items that has been asked consistently since the 1940s. Despite its common use as a measure of issue salience, however, we know little about the range of factors that shapes issue prioritization patterns at the individual-level. In this project, we first introduce a new dataset that codes all available responses to the most important problem question in American public opinion, covering over a million respondents from 850 surveys from the period of 1939-2020, and then demonstrate the usefulness of the dataset through illustrative cases. Considering potential explanations related to resources, partisanship, the availability of policy heuristics and survey designs, we examine the conditions under which respondents (i) refrain from answering policy priority questions, and (ii) express multiple policy problems, often from distinct policy areas. We conclude by suggesting pathways for future research.