Pigeonholing Partisans: Stereotypes of Party Supporters and Partisan Polarization

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Authors Jacob E. Rothschild, Adam J. Howat, Richard M. Shafranek, Ethan C. Busby
Journal/Conference Name POLITICAL BEHAVIOR
Paper Category
Paper Abstract What comes to mind when people think about rank-and-file party supporters? What stereotypes do people hold regarding ordinary partisans, and are these views politically consequential? We utilize open-ended survey items and structural topic modeling to document stereotypes about rank-and-file Democrats and Republicans. Many subjects report stereotypes consistent with the parties’ actual composition, but individual differences in political knowledge, interest, and partisan affiliation predict their specific content. Respondents varied in their tendency to characterize partisans in terms of group memberships, issue preferences, or individual traits, lending support to both ideological and identity-based conceptions of partisanship. Most importantly, we show that partisan stereotype content is politically significant: individuals who think of partisans in a predominantly trait-based manner—that is, in a way consistent with partisanship as a social identity—display dramatically higher levels of both affective and ideological polarization.
Date of publication 2019
Code Programming Language R
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