Scholars typically argue that elite polarization has only negative consequences for American politics. I challenge this view by demonstrating that elite polarization, by clarifying where the parties stand on the issues of the day, causes ordinary voters to adopt more consistent attitudes. Scholars have made such claims in the past, but because only observational data has been available, demonstrating a cause-and-effect relationship has proven to be difficult. I use original experiments to verify that there is a small but significant causal link between elite polarization and voter consistency. These findings have important normative implications for our understanding of the consequences of elite polarization, the role of political parties in a modern democracy, and the standards scholars use to assess citizen competence and participation.
Political Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 26, 2009
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