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Affective polarization and habits of political participation

Phillips, Joseph (2024) Affective polarization and habits of political participation. Electoral Studies, 87 . Article Number 102733. ISSN 0261-3794. E-ISSN 1873-6890. (doi:10.1016/j.electstud.2023.102733) (KAR id:104452)


Affective polarization, or relative dislike of opposing partisans, is associated with several negative outcomes for democracy. However, a number of studies argue that affective polarization has one positive democratic consequence: it spurs political participation. However, political participation, especially voting, is habitual, and the factors that spur people to start participating are not the same as those that sustain participation once it is initiated. Existing work does not address this distinction. Leveraging large-scale survey data linked to validated measures of turnout as well as panel data, this paper shows that affective polarization mainly serves to sustain existing habits of turnout. In contrast, there is little evidence that affective polarization motivates people who did not previously participate to begin doing so. These results indicate that instead of improving democratic outcomes, affective polarization exacerbates existing inequities in political participation.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1016/j.electstud.2023.102733
Uncontrolled keywords: Affective polarization; Political polarization; Voter turnout; Partisanship; United States
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Funders: University of Kent (
Depositing User: Joe Phillips
Date Deposited: 02 Jan 2024 10:26 UTC
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2024 09:36 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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