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Dependent Variables: Feeling Thermometer Data

For years, the National Election Studies (NES) have used something called "Feeling Thermometers" to guage attitudes toward persons and groups. Here's the actual lead-in to the item from the interview schedule:

I'd like to get your feelings toward some of our political leaders and other people who are in the news these days. I'll read the name of a person and I'd like you to rate that person using something we call the feeling thermometer.
  • Ratings between 50 degrees and 100 degrees mean that you feel favorable and warm toward the person.
  • Ratings between 0 degrees and 50 degrees mean that you don't feel favorable toward the person and that you don't care too much for that person.
  • You would rate the person at the 50 degree mark if you don't feel particularly warm or cold toward the person.
  • If we come to a person whose name you don't recognize, you don't need to rate that person. Just tell me and we'll move on to the next one.

Based on the responses, the NES constructs scales from 0 to 100. These scales tend to demonstrate considerable variation in respondents attitudes toward the persons or groups in question. The vote00.por file contains such scales for 35 different persons and groups. Here are some illustrative graphs from those items.

The Republican presidental candidate, George W. Bush drew scores across the temperature scale, but mostely toward the middle.

Green Party candidate, Ralph Nader, was even more likely to get "middling" responses, revealing less variation in feelings.

On the other hand, Hillary Clinton proved to be a much more controversial figure, with scores at both ends rivaling the middle.

Feminists as a group were not well defined, but mainly were positive.

Environmentalists, on the whole were more favorably viewed than Feminists.

Political parties in general tended to be viewed more positively than negatively.

Be sure to include such a graph at the beginning of your paper to establish the task for explanation.