Chapter

Have Voters Sorted?

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/9780226473673.003.0003
Have Voters Sorted?

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This chapter shows that American voters have sorted on a wide range of indicators of ideology. Sorting is linked to changing levels of elite polarization, but a large increase in voter sorting results only in a limited increase in voter polarization. Drawing on National Election Study (NES) data, the long-standing benchmark study of the political attitudes of the American people, this chapter demonstrates that voter sorting accounts for the observed increase in mass polarization. Two demographic changes — the southern realignment and generational replacement — increase sorting across a variety of issues. However, another fundamental demographic shift that has affected sorting is the rise of evangelical Christians and the politics of social issues, especially abortion.

Keywords: voters; sorting; ideology; elite polarization; mass polarization; southern realignment; generational replacement; evangelical Christians; politics; abortion

Chapter.  8986 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: US Politics

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