Chapter

Testing Competing Explanations for Sorting

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/9780226473673.003.0004
Testing Competing Explanations for Sorting

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Elite polarization clarifies where the parties stand on the issues of the day, and ordinary voters sort in response to this increased clarity. It is not clear whether the link between sorting and elite polarization may hold once other relevant factors that also affect sorting are taken into account. A number of competing theories have been put forward to explain why individuals sort, including recognition of elite party differences, the evolution of southern Democrats, general political information, and variation by birth cohort. Drawing on National Election Study (NES) data, this chapter shows that even controlling for other potential variables, elite polarization is a major factor behind mass sorting. However, the data do not support the southern Democrat hypothesis. No difference was observed between Democrats and Republicans or between northern and southern Democrats.

Keywords: elite polarization; sorting; voters; Democrats; Republicans; National Election Study

Chapter.  4415 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: US Politics

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