Enemy Mine: Negative Partisanship and Satisfaction with Democracy
Polarization has increased in recent decades, including emotional distance between partisans. While positive partisan identity has been linked to the absorption of democratic norms and democratic satisfaction, this article addresses the impact of negative partisanship on citizens’ satisfaction with the functioning of their democracies. Employing two measures of negative partisanship – dislike for a party and unwillingness to ever vote for a party – the article finds that negative partisanship is linked to lower satisfaction with democracy, particularly negative partisanship for major parties. It also finds that respondents’ sentiments towards other parties moderate the experience of electoral outcomes; the win/loss satisfaction gap is greater for negative partisans. Defeat is more strongly tied to satisfaction for negative partisans of governing parties. Coalition membership, on the other hand, is more valuable to them. This relationship raises concerns that increasing rates of negative partisan identity reduces democratic commitment, undermining democratic stability.
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