The Common Good and Voter Polarization

61 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2021 Last revised: 5 Aug 2022

See all articles by John G. Matsusaka

John G. Matsusaka

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business; USC Gould School of Law

Chad Kendall

University of Southern California

Date Written: August 5, 2021

Abstract

Do voters see democracy entirely in spatial terms, as a trade off of inherently conflicting interests, or do they also view it as a search for the ``common good”, as some democracy theorists have long conjectured? We develop an empirical model in which voters have preferences over both common-good and spatial payoffs, and provide a novel method to disentangle the two. Estimating the model on California ballot propositions from 1986 to 2020, we find that 74 percent of voters placed significant weight on the common good, and that partisan polarization roughly doubled among the public over the last decade, mainly due to Democrats drifting to the left.

Keywords: Voting, polarization, voter preferences, referendums, common values, valence, elections

JEL Classification: D72, D7, H4

Suggested Citation

Matsusaka, John G. and Kendall, Chad, The Common Good and Voter Polarization (August 5, 2021). USC CLASS Research Paper No. CLASS21-38, USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 21-38, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3868589 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3868589

John G. Matsusaka (Contact Author)

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business ( email )

Department of Finance & Business Economics
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
213-740-6495 (Phone)
213-740-6650 (Fax)

USC Gould School of Law

699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
213-740-6495 (Phone)

Chad Kendall

University of Southern California ( email )

USC FBE Dept.
701 Exposition Blvd, Ste. 231 HOH-231, MC-1422
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.sites.google.com/site/chadwkendall/

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