Chapter

The Transformation of the American Electorate

in The Partisan Sort

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780226473642
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226473673 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226473673.003.0001
The Transformation of the American Electorate

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Since the late 1960s, partisan political elites in the United States have become more divided. Elite Democrats are now almost all liberals, while elite Republicans are almost all conservatives. However, the impact of this increased elite polarization on the American public — in particular, whether this elite polarization has generated mass polarization — remains unclear. This book argues that elite polarization has radically transformed voters, not by greatly increasing mass polarization, but by causing voters to adopt the ideological outlook of their same-party elites. This alignment of partisanship and ideology is known as sorting, which has important implications for voter behavior and, in turn, candidate behavior. The book examines the causal mechanism connecting elite polarization to voter sorting and shows that voters have sorted on a variety of different indicators of ideology.

Keywords: political elites; United States; sorting; Democrats; Republicans; ideology; partisanship; voter behavior; elite polarization

Chapter.  4295 words. 

Subjects: US Politics

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