Polarization and the Decline of the American Floating Voter

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Authors Corwin D. Smidt
Paper Category
Paper Abstract The observed rate of Americans voting for a different party across successive presidential elections has never been lower. This trend is largely explained by the clarity of party differences reducing indecision and ambivalence and increasing reliability in presidential voting. American National Election Studies (ANES) Times Series study data show that recent independent, less engaged voters perceive candidate differences as clearly as partisan, engaged voters of past elections and with declining rates of ambivalence, being undecided, and floating. Analysis of ANES inter-election panel studies shows the decline in switching is present among nonvoters too, as pure independents are as reliable in their party support as strong partisans of prior eras. These findings show parties benefit from the behavioral response of all Americans to polarization. By providing an ideological anchor to candidate evaluations, polarization produces a reliable base of party support that is less responsive to short-term forces.
Date of publication 2017
Code Programming Language R

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