The Common Good and Voter Polarization
61 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2021 Last revised: 5 Aug 2022
Date Written: August 5, 2021
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: Suggested Citation