Fundamental Drivers of Decision-Making
40 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2014
Date Written: 2014
Research has found that authoritarianism has molded partisan sorting and polarization, as citizens divided themselves into the two parties along the authoritarian dimension based on party elites’ ideological positions on social issues. Yet, party elites also reflect demographic stereotypes which emerged from the Democratic Party diversifying, as they welcomed “outsider” social groups, while the Republican Party remained homogenous in its members. As such, I propose that authoritarianism reflects an aversion to diversity that individuals use when making sense of their partisan identities, and hypothesize that authoritarianism has shaped party affiliations of White citizens through social identity matches with party elites. Using hierarchal modeling techniques, this paper empirically tests which mechanism – party elites’ ideological positions or their social identities – best serves as the dynamic link between Whites citizens’ authoritarian dispositions and their party identifications over the past forty years. I demonstrate that the social identity match between citizen and party is a stronger predictor of party identity than the ideological match, especially among White Protestant authoritarians. All else being equal, White authoritarians identified with the party that best represented their in-groups, even if that meant identifying with the party of the left.
Keywords: authoritarianism, party identity, social identity, ideology
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