Northwestern Events Calendar


American Politics Workshop Presents David Doherty

When: Friday, May 17, 2019
12:00 PM - 1:15 PM CT

Where: Scott Hall, 212, 601 University Place, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: John Mocek   (847) 491-5364

Group: Department of Political Science

Category: Academic


The Primary Electorate and Party Polarization

Observers often point to primary elections as playing a critical role in fostering polarization, positing that primary voters harbor distinctive policy preferences and demand ideological purity from candidates. Here we reexamine this claim using data from a conjoint experiment that allows us to compare how the positions adopted by hypothetical candidates affect how partisan primary voters and their non-voting counterparts evaluate them. We also leverage data from a novel survey of local party chairpersons to assess whether local party chairs' assessments of what makes a candidate viable in a primary diverge from primary voters' preferences. Given that local party chairpersons play an important role in recruiting and supporting candidates, if they believe that ideological purity is a prerequisite for primary success, they may foster polarization by promoting unnecessarily ideological candidates at this stage of the electoral process. We find evidence that, on some issues, partisan primary voters respond differently to candidates' positions than their non-voting counterparts. We also find that chairs' perceptions regarding the positions that improve a candidate's viability do not consistently reflect primary voters' preferences. Each of these rifts is particularly pronounced among Republicans.

David Doherty

Assoc. Profeossor of Political Science

Loyola University Chicago

Add to Calendar

Add Event To My Group:

Please sign-in