John Cluverius describes the Policy Mood (seen above), which “is calculated by aggregating hundreds of survey questions” and ”captures shifts in the the popularity of increased government action over time”:
One of the key aspects of policy mood is that tends to react against prevailing government policies. Christopher Wlezien described this response as a “thermostat”: after the government does more and spends more, policy mood becomes less liberal; after the government does less and spends less, it becomes more liberal. This effect has been discussed in greater detail previously on this blog and others. In particular, the public’s policy mood responds to changes in party control of the White House. The public becomes more liberal during the administration of Republican presidents, and more conservative under the administration of Democratic presidents.