Two Roads Diverged

Kevin Lewis

October 16, 2020

When racism and sexism benefit Black and female politicians: Politicians’ ideology moderates prejudice’s effect more than politicians’ demographic background
Hui Bai
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming


Using large samples that are nationally diverse or nationally representative (total N = 44,836), this article presents evidence that citizens’ prejudice does not usually benefit or undermine politicians who are from a particular demographic group, as many past studies assumed; instead, citizens’ prejudice is associated with support for conservative politicians and opposition to liberal politicians, regardless of politicians’ demographic background. Study 1a and Study 1b show that, regardless of the race and gender of real politicians, racism and sexism negatively predict support for liberal politicians, and positively predict support for conservative politicians. This overall pattern is experimentally confirmed in Study 2 where participants evaluate a hypothetical politician. Using data collected between 1972 and 2016, Study 3 shows that, historically, the predictive effect of racism and sexism on support for politicians in general is moderated by politicians’ perceived ideology. Study 4 addresses a limitation of Study 1–3, and Study 5 extends the results for prejudice to the religious domain (i.e., prejudice toward Muslims). Together, these studies suggest that the way prejudice is related to support for a politician is primarily moderated by the politician’s political ideology, not the politician’s demographic background. Thus, this article highlights the often-overlooked role of politicians’ ideology, clarifying theories that explain how citizens’ prejudice is translated into their political preferences.

Sociopolitical stress and acute cardiovascular disease hospitalizations around the 2016 presidential election
Matthew Mefford et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming


Previous research suggests that stressors may trigger the onset of acute cardiovascular disease (CVD) events within hours to days, but there has been limited research around sociopolitical events such as presidential elections. Among adults ≥18 y of age in Kaiser Permanente Southern California, hospitalization rates for acute CVD were compared in the time period immediately prior to and following the 2016 presidential election date. Hospitalization for CVD was defined as an inpatient or emergency department discharge diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) or stroke using International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision codes. Rate ratios (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated comparing CVD rates in the 2 d following the 2016 election to rates in the same 2 d of the prior week. In a secondary analysis, AMI and stroke were analyzed separately. The rate of CVD events in the 2 d after the 2016 presidential election (573.14 per 100,000 person-years [PY]) compared to the rate in the window prior to the 2016 election (353.75 per 100,000 PY) was 1.62 times higher (95% CI 1.17, 2.25). Results were similar across sex, age, and race/ethnicity groups. The RRs were similar for AMI (RR 1.67, 95% CI 1.00, 2.76) and stroke (RR 1.59, 95% CI 1.03, 2.44) separately. Transiently heightened cardiovascular risk around the 2016 election may be attributable to sociopolitical stress. Further research is needed to understand the intersection between major sociopolitical events, perceived stress, and acute CVD events.

Partisan Context and Procedural Values: Attitudes Towards Presidential Secrecy Before and after the 2016 US Election
Daniel Berliner
British Journal of Political Science, forthcoming


What shapes attitudes towards procedural rules that constrain executive power? This letter argues that procedural values are contextual: A function of who is in power. Supporters of those in power prefer fewer procedural constraints, while opposition supporters prefer greater. This study reports the results of a unique test using data from the 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Survey. Respondents were asked, in both pre- and post-election waves, if they thought it should be ‘easier or harder for the president to keep documents secret from the public’. The panel design makes it possible to track individual changes following the shift in political context. The results show evidence of a partisan ‘flip’ in attitudes following the election, with Republicans becoming less likely -- and Democrats more likely -- to prefer additional constraints on presidential secrecy. However, this partisan ‘flip’ is present only among higher political knowledge respondents.

Allies or Agitators? How Partisan Identity Shapes Public Opinion about Violent or Nonviolent Protests
Yuan Hsiao & Scott Radnitz
Political Communication, forthcoming


In recent years, scholars have argued that protests that employ nonviolent tactics attract greater support and are therefore more likely to succeed than those that use violence. We argue that how protest tactics are perceived is not a purely objective determination, but can be influenced in part by observer characteristics – in particular, by partisan identity. We conducted a survey experiment on two independent samples through the MTurk platform, randomly assigning protester group identity and tactics. Results show that when controlling for assigned tactics, self-identified Republicans but not Democrats perceive higher levels of violence when a disliked group is protesting. The effect is strongest in regard to tactics that are nominally the least disruptive. The findings have implications for theories of nonviolent protest, the legitimacy of repression, and the prospects for marginal groups to influence policy in polarized societies.

Reconsidering the Relationship between Authoritarianism and Republican Support in 2016 and Beyond
Matthew Luttig
Journal of Politics, forthcoming


Authoritarianism has become increasingly associated with Republican partisanship and vote choice for Republican candidates in presidential elections. Many have relied on this fact to explain the forces giving rise to Donald Trump’s successful presidential run in 2016. But is authoritarianism driving changes in partisanship and candidate preference? Despite the wide reach of research on authoritarianism and political outcomes, the vast majority of this research rests solely on correlational analyses. The present research note addresses this shortcoming with two panel studies. In both cases, the findings show a more consistent and stronger reverse temporal relationship between support for Republicans and the child rearing measure of authoritarianism. Authoritarianism is not exogenous from political attitudes as widely assumed. Instead, the authoritarian divide appears to be largely a product of cue-taking on the part of the electorate mimicking their political leaders.

America First populism, social volatility, and self-reported arrests
Ron Levi, Ioana Sendroiu & John Hagan
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming


Despite research on the causes of populism and on the narratives of populist leaders, there is little empirical work on the relationship between populist attitudes and behavior, notably including criminal behavior. Our overarching concern is the recurrent social volatility of metaphorical populist themes that are central to impactful political messaging. Drawing on a national United States survey conducted around the 2016 election, we use multilevel models to show that the politically charged exclusionary boundaries of “America First” populism are behaviorally connected to increased odds of having been arrested. We argue that the rapid redrawing of social boundaries that make up populist attitudes is closely connected with the effects of economic and political frustrations during times of rapid social change. In the process, we develop a behavioral analysis of the social volatility of the recurrent populist movement in America.

Conspiracy theories, election rigging, and support for democratic norms
Bethany Albertson & Kimberly Guiler
Research & Politics, September 2020


Under what conditions does conspiratorial rhetoric about election rigging change attitudes? We investigated this question using a survey experiment the day before and the morning of the 2016 US presidential election. We hypothesized that exposure to conspiratorial rhetoric about election interference would significantly heighten negative emotions (anxiety, anger) and undermine support for democratic institutions. Specifically, we expected that Democrats who read conspiratorial information about interference by the Russians in US elections, and that Republicans who read conspiratorial information about interference by the Democratic Party in US elections would express less support for key democratic norms. Our evidence largely supported our hypotheses. Americans exposed to a story claiming the election would be tampered with expressed less confidence in democratic institutions, and these effects were moderated by prior partisan beliefs about the actors most likely responsible for election meddling.

Who Is Open to Authoritarian Governance within Western Democracies?
Ariel Malka et al.
Perspectives on Politics, forthcoming


Recent events have raised concern about potential threats to democracy within Western countries. If Western citizens who are open to authoritarian governance share a common set of political preferences, then authoritarian elites can attract mass coalitions that are willing to subvert democracy to achieve shared ideological goals. With this in mind, we explored which ideological groups are most open to authoritarian governance within Western general publics using World Values Survey data from fourteen Western democracies and three recent Latin American Public Opinion Project samples from Canada and the United States. Two key findings emerged. First, cultural conservatism was consistently associated with openness to authoritarian governance. Second, within half of the democracies studied, including all of the English-speaking ones, Western citizens holding a protection-based attitude package - combining cultural conservatism with left economic attitudes - were the most open to authoritarian governance. Within other countries, protection-based and consistently right-wing attitude packages were associated with similarly high levels of openness to authoritarian governance. We discuss implications for radical right populism and the possibility of splitting potentially undemocratic mass coalitions along economic lines.

Dynamics of Respect: Evidence From Two Different National and Political Contexts
Klaus Michael Reininger et al.
Journal of Social and Political Psychology, Fall 2020, Pages 542-559


In (post-)modern, plural societies, consisting of numerous subgroups, mutual respect between groups plays a central role for a constructive social and political life. In this article, we examine whether group members’ perception of being respected by outgroups fosters respect for these outgroups. In Study 1, we employed a panel sample of supporters of the Tea Party movement in the United States (N = 422). In Study 2, we employed a panel sample of members of the LGBTI community in Germany (N = 262). As disapproved target outgroups, we chose in Study 1 homosexuals in the United States, while in Study 2, we chose supporters of the German populist, right-wing political party „Alternative für Deutschland“. Our studies thus constituted a complementary, nearly symmetrical constellation of a liberal group and a conservative political group each. Among Tea Party movement supporters, respect from a disapproved outgroup consistently predicted respect for that outgroup. Among German LGBTI community members, this effect of respect from a disapproved outgroup was found in some of our analyses. For this latter sample, there was furthermore a tendency of societal respect to predict respect for a disapproved outgroup longitudinally. Additionally, we observed for both of our samples that respect from other ingroup members decreased respect for a disapproved outgroup. The dynamics of mutual respect in these two complementary intergroup contexts are discussed as well as the importance of direct intergroup reciprocity and superordinate group membership as routes to mutual respect.

The Power of Equality? Polarization and Collective Mis-representation on Gay Rights in Congress, 1989–2019
Benjamin Bishin, Justin Freebourn & Paul Teten
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming


The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent application of employment protections to gays and lesbians in Bostock v. Clayton County highlights the striking absence of policy produced by the U.S. Congress despite two decades of increased public support for gay rights. With the notable exceptions of allowing gays and lesbians to serve in the military, and passing hate crimes legislation, every other federal policy advancing gay rights over the last three decades has been the product of a Supreme Court ruling or Executive Order. To better understand the reasons for this inaction, we examine the changing preferences of members of Congress on LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) issues. Examining scores from the Human Rights Campaign from 1989 to 2019, we find a striking polarization by the parties on LGBTQ issues, as Democrats have become much more supportive and Republicans even more opposed to gay rights. This change has been driven not by gerrymandering, mass opinion polarization, or elite backlash, but among Republicans by a mix of both conversion and replacement, and among Democrats primarily of replacement of more moderate members. The result is a striking lack of collective representation that leaves members of the LGBTQ community at risk to the whims of presidents and jurists.

The Language of Right-Wing Populist Leaders: Not So Simple
Duncan McDonnell & Stefano Ondelli
Perspectives on Politics, forthcoming


Political scientists have long asserted that populists use simpler language than their mainstream rivals to appeal to ordinary people and distance themselves from elites. However, there is little comparative evidence in support of that claim. In this study, we investigate the linguistic simplicity of four right-wing populists compared to their principal opponents in the United States, France, United Kingdom, and Italy. We do so by analysing a corpus of approximately one million words from leaders’ speeches, using a series of linguistics measures for evaluating simplicity. Contrary to expectations, we find that Donald Trump was only slightly simpler than Hillary Clinton, while Nigel Farage in the UK and Marine Le Pen in France were more complex than their main rivals, and Italy’s Matteo Salvini was simpler on some measures but not others. We conclude that the simple language claim is not borne out and that other aspects of the received wisdom about populism should be re-examined.

A matter of taste: Gustatory sensitivity predicts political ideology
Benjamin Ruisch et al.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, forthcoming


Previous research has shown that political attitudes are highly heritable, but the proximal physiological mechanisms that shape ideology remain largely unknown. Based on work suggesting possible ideological differences in genes related to low-level sensory processing, we predicted that taste (i.e., gustatory) sensitivity would be associated with political ideology. In 4 studies (combined N = 1,639) we test this hypothesis and find robust support for this association. In Studies 1–3, we find that sensitivity to the chemicals PROP and PTC -- 2 well established measures of taste sensitivity -- are associated with greater political conservatism. In Study 4, we find that fungiform papilla density, a proxy for taste bud density, also predicts greater conservatism, and that this association is partially statistically mediated by disgust sensitivity. This work suggests that low-level physiological differences in sensory processing may shape an individual’s political attitudes.

The Behavioral Immune System Shapes Partisan Preferences in Modern Democracies: Disgust Sensitivity Predicts Voting for Socially Conservative Parties
Lene Aarøe, Michael Bang Petersen & Kevin Arceneaux
Political Psychology, forthcoming


While there is growing interest in the relationship between pathogen‐avoidance motivations and partisanship, the extant findings remain contradictory and suffer from a number of methodological limitations related to measurement and internal and external validity. We address these limitations and marshal the most complete test to date of the relationship between the behavioral immune system and partisanship, as indexed by which party people identify with and vote for. Using a unique research design, including multiple well‐powered, nationally representative samples from the United States and Denmark collected in election and nonelection contexts, our study is the first to establish in cross‐national data a consistent, substantial, and replicable connection between deep‐seated pathogen‐avoidance motivations and socially conservative party preferences across multiple validated measures of individual differences in disgust sensitivity and using large representative samples. We explore the relative contribution of the pathogen‐avoidance model and sexual strategies for accounting for this relationship.

Neural nonpartisans
Darren Schreiber et al.
Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties, forthcoming


While affective conflict between partisans is driving much of modern politics, it is also driving increasing numbers to eschew partisan labels. A dominant theory is that these self-proclaimed independents are merely covert partisans. In the largest functional brain imaging study of neuropolitics to date, we find differences between partisans and nonpartisans in the right medial temporal pole, orbitofrontal/medial prefrontal cortex, and right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, three regions often engaged during social cognition. These results suggest that rather than being simply covert partisans, nonpartisans process the world in a way different from their partisan counterparts.

Labor Unions and Non-member Political Protest Mobilization in the United States
Gregory Lyon & Brian Schaffner
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming


While political protest and labor unions are seen as important elements in democratic societies, systematic research on the relationship between the two is scarce. Past research finds that union members are more likely to engage in protest, but it is unclear whether unions increase protest among non-members. This study draws on two waves of data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study and examines two mechanisms through which labor unions facilitate political protest among non-members: social ties and aggregate strength. We provide evidence that labor unions mobilize non-members to engage in political protest. When non-members have a social tie to a union or live in a state where unions are more robust and widespread, they are more likely to engage in political protest, but no more likely to engage in non-collective forms of political participation such as donating to political causes or contacting officials. The findings extend our understanding of an important, but understudied, act of political behavior as well as the ways that societal institutions stimulate collective political mobilization.

Sex and ideology: Liberal and conservative responses to scandal
Gregory Saxton & Tiffany Barnes
Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties, forthcoming


Research finds citizens are less likely to penalize politicians implicated in sex scandals compared to corruption. Still, observational data reveals that some politicians have better luck surviving sex scandals than others. Do voters punish politicians for sex scandals? We argue yes – some do. Whereas liberals are inclined to view sex scandals as personal matters – unrelated to a politician’s job performance – conservatives are more likely to view sex scandals as moral outrages that disregard traditional values and threaten the social order. Conservatives are thus less forgiving of sex scandals than liberals, especially when women politicians are implicated. Using evidence from a survey experiment in the US designed to isolate the effect of scandal type (corruption vs. sex) and candidate sex, we investigate heterogeneous effects by political ideology. We find that liberals tend to be forgiving of sex scandals, but not corruption. Conservatives, by contrast, punish men’s sex scandals on par with men’s involvement in corruption. And, conservatives assign women a penalty bonus for either type of scandal. That is, they are significantly more likely than liberals to punish women for involvement in either type of scandal – sex or corruption.


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