Chapter

The Impact of the 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/9780226473673.003.0007
The Impact of the Sorted

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When political elites take distinct positions on a host of issues, voters get clearer signals about the issue positions held by Democrats and Republicans and use these clearer cues to sort. This increase in sorting is explained not only by existing voters aligning their partisanship and ideology (conversion effect) but also by younger voters being more likely to enter the electorate already sorted (replacement effect). This chapter discusses the implications of sorting and how sorting has reshaped the electoral landscape of American politics. It first demonstrates the substantial impact of sorting on voter behavior and then explains how sorting offers new insights into the debates over participatory democracy. It also shows how sorting offers an alternative perspective on the consequences of elite polarization. Voters who move from unsorted to sorted become much more likely to vote for their party's candidates, to have stronger liking for their own party and its leaders, and to better align their other issue positions with those of their party.

Keywords: political elites; sorting; voters; Democrats; Republicans; partisanship; ideology; voter behavior; elite polarization; participatory democracy

Chapter.  8726 words. 

Subjects: US Politics

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