Authoritarianism, Affective Polarization, and Economic Ideology

Journal Article (Journal Article)

I consider two theories of affective polarization between Democrats and Republicans in the United States: (1) ideological divergence on size-of-government issues (Webster & Abramowitz,) and (2) authoritarianism-based partisan sorting (Hetherington & Weiler,). I argue that these alternatives cannot be easily disentangled, because politically engaged citizens seek out and assimilate information about economic policy from elites who are perceived to share their core traits and cultural values. In this way, the economic preferences emphasized by the first view are partly endogenous to the worldview divide emphasized by the second. Elite position taking on economic issues may elicit strong emotions among citizens because it reliably signals a commitment to one worldview or the other. I review new and existing evidence for this claim in both observational survey data and two experimental studies. I also consider the broader implications of these results for the distribution of economic opinion across indicators of human capital.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Johnston, CD

Published Date

  • February 1, 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 39 /

Start / End Page

  • 219 - 238

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1467-9221

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0162-895X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/pops.12483

Citation Source

  • Scopus