Scholars view polarization with trepidation. But polarization may clarify voters’ choices and generate stronger party attachments. The link between party polarization and mass partisanship remains unclear. I look to theories of partisanship to derive implications about the relationships among polarization, citizens’ perceptions of polarization, and mass partisanship. I test those implications using cross-national and longitudinal survey data. My results confirm that polarization correlates with individual partisanship across space and time. Citizens in polarized systems also perceive their parties to be more polarized. And perceiving party polarization makes people more likely to be partisan. That relationship appears to be causal: using a long-term panel survey from the United States, I find that citizens become more partisan as they perceive polarization increasing.
Political Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 12, 2014
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