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Smith - Asymetrical Polarization
Bitecofer, Rachel. "Polarization in US presidential nomination campaigns." PhD diss., University of Georgia, 2015.
This research presents a theory of political polarization which argues that changes in American society, political culture, institutions, media, and technology combine to create conditions favorable to political polarization at the mass and elite levels through a process known as party sorting. As ideological conservatives sorted into the Republican Party and ideological liberals sorted into the Democratic Party, each party became ideologically homogenous. Homogeneity allows ideological polarization amongst political elites, political activists, and the American electorate to increase because it promotes ideological extremism and discourages ideological moderation through “group think.” Without the presence of liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats to raise alternative viewpoints, to oppose the party’s status quo on issues, and to foster compromise with the opposition party, ideological extremism increases and the two parties diverge ideologically.
Boxell, Levi. "Demographic Change and Political Polarization in the United States." Available at SSRN 3148805 (2018).
I construct an index of political polarization using seven previously proposed measures. I estimate the relative propensity for polarization across demographic groups in a regression framework and examine the extent to which demographic change can explain recent trends in polarization. Assuming fixed propensities for polarization, I estimate that 25 to 59 percent of the change in polarization between 1984 and 2016 can be attributed to demographic change in the United States.
Buchler, Justin. "Asymmetric polarization and asymmetric models: Democratic and Republican interpretations of electoral dynamics." In MPSA Annual Meeting, available at https://artscimedia. case. edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/14182045/asymmetry. pdf. 2015
This paper argues that Republican office-holders have become more ideologically extreme than Democrats in part because Democratic and Republican elites rely on electoral narratives that imply different models of the electoral process. While many Democratic narratives resemble the basic premise of the Downsian spatial model and its pressure towards ideological centrism, popular Republican narratives suggest at least four alternative models. In particular, a model derived from Phyllis Schlafly’s A Choice Not An Echo suggests that Republicans electoral fortunes improve if they to move to the right, not towards anything resembling a center, and narratives constructed around Ronald Reagan encourage belief in such a model. Such divergence in conceptual models at the elite level can lead to asymmetric polarization among office-holders.
Dahlgren, Peter M., Adam Shehata, and Jesper Strömbäck. "Reinforcing spirals at work? Mutual influences between selective news exposure and ideological leaning." European Journal of Communication 34, no. 2 (2019): 159-174.
The growth of partisan news sources has raised concerns that people will increasingly select attitude-consistent information, which might lead to increasing political polarization. Thus far, there is limited research on the long-term mutual influences between selective exposure and political attitudes. To remedy this, this study investigates the reciprocal influences between selective exposure and political attitudes over several years, using a three-wave panel survey conducted in Sweden during 2014–2016. More specifically, we analyse how ideological selective exposure to both traditional and online news media influences citizens’ ideological leaning. Findings suggest that (1) people seek-out ideologically consistent print news and online news and (2) such attitude-consistent news exposure reinforces citizens’ ideological leaning over time. In practice, however, such reinforcement effects are hampered by (3) relatively low overall ideological selective exposure and a (4) significant degree of cross-cutting news exposure online. These findings are discussed in light of selective exposure theory and the reinforcing spirals model.
Fisher, Patrick. "The Tea Party and the demographic and ideological gaps within the Republican Party." Geopolitics, History, and International Relations 7, no. 2 (2015): 13-31.
The Tea Party has had a marked impact on American politics since emerging after the election of Barack Obama as president in 2009. The role of the Tea Party in influencing the direction of the Republican Party, however, has been hotly debated. For the first time, the American National Election Studies (ANES) in its 2012 dataset included variables regarding support for the Tea Party movement. This study analyzes the 2012 ANES data to compare the demographics and attitudes of Tea Party supporters to Republicans who did not support the Tea Party. Demographically, Tea Party supporters are whiter, older, more male, more religious, and more Southern than Republicans who did not identify themselves as members of the movement. Not only are Tea Party supporters demographically different from Non-Tea Party Republicans, but there are significant ideological and policy preference differences between the two groups as well. On virtually every issue analyzed, the issue positions of Tea Party supporters are more conservative, sometime considerably so, than Non-Tea Party Republicans. These demographic and ideological disparities have enormous implications for the future of the Republican Party.
Fishkin, Joseph, and David E. Pozen. "Asymmetric Constitutional Hardball." Columbia Law Review 118, no. 3 (2018): 915-82.
Many have argued that the United States' two political parties have experienced "asymmetric polarization" in recent decades. The Republican Party has moved significantly further to the right than the Democratic Party has moved to the left.
Gidron, Noam, and Daniel Ziblatt. "Center-right political parties in advanced democracies." Annual Review of Political Science 22 (2019): 17-35.
This review proposes a comparative research agenda on center-right parties in advanced democracies, bringing together research in American and comparative politics. Political scientists have recently closely examined the decline of the center-left and the rise of the radical right but have paid less attention to the weakening of center-right parties. Yet cohesive center-right parties have facilitated political stability and compromises, while their disintegration has empowered radical challengers. After presenting an overview of right-wing politics in Western democracies and weighing different definitions of the electoral right, we discuss two factors that shape variations in center-right cohesion: organizational robustness of center-right partisan institutions and the (un)bundling of conservative mass attitudes on different policy dimensions. Last, we argue that a full account of the rise of the radical right cannot focus solely on the strategies of the center-left but must incorporate also the choices, opportunities, and constraints of center-right parties.
Grossmann, Matt, and David A. Hopkins. "Ideological Republicans and group interest Democrats: The asymmetry of American party politics." Perspectives on Politics 13, no. 1 (2015): 119-139.
Scholarship commonly implies that the major political parties in the United States are configured as mirror images to each other, but the two sides actually exhibit important and underappreciated differences. The Republican Party is primarily the agent of an ideological movement whose supporters prize doctrinal purity, while the Democratic Party is better understood as a coalition of social groups seeking concrete government action. This asymmetry is reinforced by American public opinion, which favors left-of-center positions on most specific policy issues yet simultaneously shares the general conservative preference for smaller and less active government. Each party therefore faces a distinctive governing challenge in balancing the unique demands of its base with the need to maintain broad popular support. This foundational difference between the parties also explains why the rise of the Tea Party movement among Republicans in recent years has not been accompanied by an equivalent ideological insurgency among Democrats.
Grossmann, Matt, and David A. Hopkins. "Placing media in conservative culture." UT Austin New Agendas Conference, April, Austin, TX, 2018.
Republican voters often see politics as an ideological battle between liberalism and conservatism, but do not necessarily share the policy agenda of their elected leadership. Linking right-leaning citizens with elite political goals, the conservative movement created a multimedia infrastructure to communicate with the Republican electoral base and counteract mainstream institutions. Republican elites, activists, and voters now rely on conservative media, even sometimes empowering Fox News Channel, talk radio, and conservative websites over party leaders. This media environment set the stage for the rise of Donald Trump, who consciously shaped his messages to appeal to voters based on conservative media concerns and styles.
Martin, Gregory J., and Ali Yurukoglu. "Bias in cable news: Persuasion and polarization." American Economic Review 107, no. 9 (2017): 2565-99.
We measure the persuasive effects of slanted news and tastes for like-minded news, exploiting cable channel positions as exogenous shifters of cable news viewership. Channel positions do not correlate with demographics that predict viewership and voting, nor with local satellite viewership. We estimate that Fox News increases Republican vote shares by 0.3 points among viewers induced into watching 2.5 additional minutes per week by variation in position. We then estimate a model of voters who select into watching slanted news, and whose ideologies evolve as a result. We use the model to assess the growth over time of Fox News influence, to quantitatively assess media-driven polarization, and to simulate alternative ideological slanting of news channels
Tsfati, Yariv, and Lilach Nir. "Frames and reasoning: Two pathways from selective exposure to affective polarization." International Journal of Communication 11 (2017): 22.
Although an association between congruent exposure to ideological news and affective polarization is well documented, we know little about the mechanisms underlying it. This article explores two possible mechanisms: (1) acceptance of media frames and (2) the effects on the audience’s reasoning, specifically, their knowledge of claims supporting their and the other camp’s positions. Mediation hypotheses were tested on data collected using an online survey of users of ideological and mainstream Israeli news websites (N = 788). Op-eds from these websites (N = 259) were content-analyzed to determine the frames used by ideological and mainstream websites. Results demonstrate that acceptance of frames plays a more important role than audience reasoning in mediating the effect of selective exposure on political polarization.
Tullett, Alexa M., William P. Hart, Matthew Feinberg, Zachary J. Fetterman, and Sara Gottlieb. "Is ideology the enemy of inquiry? Examining the link between political orientation and lack of interest in novel data." Journal of Research in Personality 63 (
Four studies examined the relationship between political orientation and data selection. In each study participants were given the opportunity to select data from a large data set addressing a specific issue: the justness of the world (Pilot Study), the efficacy of social safety nets (Studies 1–3), and the benefits of social media (Study 3). Participants were given no knowledge of what the data would tell them in advance. More conservative participants selected less data, and in Study 3 this relationship was partly accounted for by an increased tendency to question the value of science as a way of learning about the world. These findings may reveal one factor contributing to political polarization: an asymmetrical interest in scientific data.
Other Items of Interest
Duke University's Polarization Lab
The Polarization Lab at Duke brings together scholars from the social sciences, statistics, and computer science to develop new technology to bridge America’s partisan divides.