Chapter

Why Voters Sort

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/9780226473673.003.0002
Why Voters Sort

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Elite polarization clarifies the positions Democrats and Republicans take on the issues of the day through two mechanisms: by increasing the ideological distance between the parties and by making each party more ideologically homogeneous. Voters look to elites who share their values to determine where they should stand on the issues. When both parties take very similar positions on an issue, aligning one's partisanship and issue position becomes a little difficult. In contrast, this cue-taking process is much simpler when the parties take more distinct positions. This chapter explores the theoretical mechanism linking the polarization of political elites to voter sorting. It discusses the impact of two particular media changes on sorting: the increase in media choice and in narrowcasting. It also assesses the positions of the presidential nominees and members of Congress, focusing on Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.

Keywords: elite polarization; sorting; Democrats; Republicans; partisanship; political elites; media; narrowcasting; presidential nominees; Congress

Chapter.  10120 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: US Politics

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