Using a large six-city exit poll from 2000, we examine popular judgments of what constitutes “political corruption” in the United States. We find two distinct evaluative dimensions: corruption understood as lawbreaking, and corruption as favoritism. These judgments are heavily conditioned by the voter’s socioeconomic background and are politically consequential. Subjective understandings of “corruption” shape perceptions of how much corruption actually exists in government. Furthermore, and more importantly, these normative assessments play a significant part in voting decisions. Individuals who judged illegal activities such as bribe-taking to be “corrupt” were more inclined to back one of the major party candidates in 2000; those who believed that favoritism in politics was “corrupt” (e.g., an official recommending an unemployed friend for a government job) were more likely to vote for Al Gore or Ralph Nader.
Political Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 10, 2005
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