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How campaigns polarize the electorate: Political polarization as an effect of the minimal effect theory within a multi-party system

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningfagfællebedømt

The minimal effect theory of campaign studies stipulates that intense political competition during campaigns assures and reinforces the initial party choice of the electorate. We find that this reinforcement is two-fold. During the campaign, the party preference of the voters’ in-group party increases while the party preference of the voters’ out-group parties decreases. Voters’ preference for their most preferred party (MPP) increases during the election campaign, while their preference for their least liked party decreases during the campaign (LPP). Across parties voters experience an increase in their preference for their most preferred party and a decrease for their least liked party as the campaign progresses. These trends show that the political campaign polarizes the electorate by increasing the affective distance between in-group party and out-group party preferences, thereby resulting in stronger political polarization after the campaign than before the campaign. The data utilized in this study is a large six-wave panel-study of Danish voters’ party preferences during the Danish parliamentary election of 2011. Thus, the analysis provides evidence of the minimal effect theory and of political polarization within a multi-party context.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftParty Politics
Vol/bind23
Udgave nummer3
Sider (fra-til)181-192
Antal sider12
ISSN1354-0688
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 1 jan. 2017

ID: 196787238