Polarized America: From Political Partisanship to Preference Partisanship

31 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2019 Last revised: 10 Sep 2021

See all articles by Verena Schoenmueller

Verena Schoenmueller

Università Bocconi

Oded Netzer

Columbia University - Columbia Business School, Marketing

Florian Stahl

Mannheim Business School

Date Written: October 17, 2019

Abstract

In light of the widely discussed political divide and increasing polarization, we investigate in this
paper whether the polarization of political ideology extends further to consumers’ preferences,
intentions, and consumption. Using three different datasets: publicly available social media data
of brand followerships of nearly half a million Twitter users, YouGov brand preference survey
dataset and Nielsen Scanner Panel data, we assess the evolution of brand preference polarization.
Our results show that the claimed polarization in political ideologies post the election of Donald
Trump in 2016 stretches further to the daily lives of consumers. We observe increased polarization
in preferences, behavioral intentions and actual purchase decisions of consumer brands. Consistent
with compensatory consumption theory, we find that the increase in polarization post the election
of Donald Trump is stronger for liberals relative to conservatives and our findings suggest that this
asymmetric polarization is driven by consumers’ demand for “Democratic brands” rather than the
supply of such brands. From a brand perspective, we find evidence that brands that took a political
stand became even more polarized. We provide a publicly available API that allows access to our
data and results.

Keywords: Political Marketing, Social Media, Data Mining, Political Polarization, Branding

JEL Classification: M31

Suggested Citation

Schoenmueller, Verena and Netzer, Oded and Stahl, Florian, Polarized America: From Political Partisanship to Preference Partisanship (October 17, 2019). Columbia Business School Research Paper Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3471477 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3471477

Verena Schoenmueller (Contact Author)

Università Bocconi ( email )

Via Roentgen, 1 (4th floor)
Milan, 20136
Italy
20136 (Fax)

Oded Netzer

Columbia University - Columbia Business School, Marketing ( email )

New York, NY 10027
United States

Florian Stahl

Mannheim Business School ( email )

L 5, 2
Mannheim, 68131
Germany
+496211811563 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://quantmarketing.bwl.uni-mannheim.de/

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