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Elite Polarization and Political Engagement in California

Posted: 29 Mar 2010 Last revised: 2 Dec 2013

Kevin A. Evans

Florida International University

Elizabeth Simas

University of Houston; University of California, Davis

Date Written: March 25, 2010


Many observers of politics see the ugly business of governing and lament the rise of polarized politics at the national and state level. Scholars have looked deeply into the causes and existence of polarization, but have not given enough scholarly attention to the consequences. How does polarization influence the way that citizens engage politics? Using data from the California Field Poll we show that increased polarization stimulates political engagement in the form of bolstered voter registration and identification with the major political parties. These results lend support to the view in the literature that elite polarization spurs engagement rather than disengagement.

Keywords: polarization, political engagement, voter registration, party identification, California

Suggested Citation

Evans, Kevin A. and Simas, Elizabeth, Elite Polarization and Political Engagement in California (March 25, 2010). Western Political Science Association 2010 Annual Meeting Paper . Available at SSRN:

Kevin A. Evans (Contact Author)

Florida International University ( email )

11200 SW 8th St
Miami, FL 33199
United States

Elizabeth Simas

University of Houston ( email )

Houston, TX 77204
United States

University of California, Davis ( email )

One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
United States

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