With renewed energy, now that I have largely reorganized my office to conform with the overall structure of my courses and other responsibilities at the college, I focus my attention on the LEO model. This particular entry will seem unpolished, but it is evident to this author that the idea cannot, and must not, wait.
Measuring the overall ideological preferences of a given community, and describing that community in terms of political ideological space, grants several intriguing opportunities for application. In particular, one "problem" that emerged from efforts to collect a purposive sample of subjects to submit to the LEO Inventory was that of the disconnect between perceived ideological preference and measured ideological preference. This disconnect appeared to extend to the test subject's impression of adherents to actors who held to other ideological preferences. This suggests a distortion of perception, not only of others observed by the subject, but of the subject himself. In order to explain why this might be so, a critical sample will need to be collected of individuals within a given community, so that a 'relative center' may be identified. This relative center will likely deviate from the 'true' center within LEO space itself, and one may be able to measure whether those within the community who tend towards that center will be viewed and will consider themselves 'centrists', unless the members of the community generally are conscious of the ideological preference of the community as a whole. Those on the periphery may perceive themselves as radicals or extremists oriented in the direction of the nearest quadrant of LEO space, or else across the threshold of one of the major descriptive axes.
I consider this hypothesis after reflecting on a student volunteer who described himself as an 'anarchist.' He was brought up within a strongly 'conservative' household and made a conscious decision to rebel once he decided that his family adhered to order for order's sake. His contrarian opinions were met with hostility and members of his own household labeled him an anarchist, and so be believed himself to be. Once he took the LEO Inventory, however, his preference was revealed to be that of a moderate left libertarian, rather than an anarchist, and he needed an explanation. A subsequent interview suggested that his household was heavily oriented around order, and that most of its members believed their position was in the "center" of the "mainstream" of the American body politic. If this be so, then the community that represented that particular household may affect the perception of ideological preference space in much the same manner as a lens affects one's optical perception of other objects in space. This particular simile has this author wondering if this lens effect is characteristic of political communities in LEO space.
In order to test this hypothesis, a major project would have to be undertaken. First, one must describe the lens. To do this, at least three variables must be measured: 1. a community's aggregate political ideological preference in LEO space. 2. the self-perception of a sample within that community regarding their own political preferences. 3. the perception of that sample of respondents by the community itself.
Second, one must observe a political actor through different positions within that community, and compare the community's perceptions with that actor's actual measured position in LEO space. One must find either the test community's aggregate perception or mean perception of a particular political actor whose LEO preference is already established. Then, individuals within the test community must report their perceptions of the ideological preference of the political actor under scrutiny, without the members of the community being aware of the LEO score itself. The differences between the individuals' perception of the external political actor and the community perception of that same actor should vary with the difference of preference between the individuals self-perceived preference and the mean preference score of the community as a whole. If it does, then a community's average LEO preference may be viewed as a lens in LEO space, and we may actually describe differences between one's perception of a political actor's ideological preference and their actual measured ideological preference in LEO space as ideological myopia.
Nevertheless, at this very early stage, in nearly every case of test subjects who took the inventory, a cursory comparison of the subject's inventory scores with the scores gleaned from the campaign literature of presidential candidates accurately predicted the inventory-taker's voting preference in the election under scrutiny, which suggeests that the members of the sample acted in accordance with their actual ideological preferences, and they generally decided to vote or not vote based on their awareness of particular candidate choices and whether they conformed to their own measured ideological preferences or not. Some voted for their preference, others voted against their opponent, if no match was perceived to be available. Not voting also appeared to be related to failure to find a LEO match. One is left to wonder if ideological myopia, if it exists, has any effect on voter choice.