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Bridging the Gap between the Qualitative and Quantitative Worlds

Public Opinion The operationalization of the public opinion condition differs depending on whether we are looking at the cross-movement analysis or the cross-national analysis. The reason is that a given value is to be interpreted differently when compared within the same issue across countries or among other issues within the same country. In the cross-movement analysis, we decided on a theoretical basis that the cut-off point should be situated above the median value, as this represents a balance between, for example, the pro and antinuclear public opinion. Empirically, we set the threshold where it does not seem artificial (that is, not between two very close cases) and avoid an unbalanced grouping of cases. Unlike political alliances, public opinion could not be standardized, so its distribution differs substantially across countries. Therefore, there are several threshold values for the public opinion condition: 63 (that is, 63 percent of people are for increasing public spending for the protection of the environment) for environment policy, 51 for nuclear energy policy, and 40 for military policy. In the crossnational analysis, we use empirical standards to set the threshold. In other words, the thresholds were determined based upon observation of the distribution of public opinion in each country, and set where no two close values were observed and so that the most “natural” Mobilization 474 grouping of values occurs. As a result, the public opinion threshold was set to 63 for Italy, 53 for Switzerland, and 48 for the United States. By doing so, we take into account the fact that the overall levels of public opinion vary from one country to the other.