Objective: Sorting is often portrayed as a mechanistic response to elite polarization: individuals recognize salient differences between the parties and match their preferences accordingly. Much less is known, however, about the psychological and motivational processes that contribute to it. In particular, how might affective reactions to elites shape convergence among political preferences?. Method: To explore the relationship between the consistency of self-reported affect and sorting, we analyze cross-sectional and panel data from the American National Election Studies. Results: On balance, we find that negative emotions directed toward the opposing party candidate and positive emotions toward one's own party candidate are associated with an increase in the alignment of ideological and partisan preferences. Conclusion: These findings illustrate how affect contributes to consistency in mass opinion.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Sciences(all)