Are there Still Limits on Partisan Prejudice?

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Abstract

Partisan affective polarization is believed, by some, to stem from vitriolic elite political discourse. We explore this account by replicating several 2014 studies that examine partisan prejudice. Despite claims of elevated partisan affective polarization from pundits, this extensive replication offers no evidence of an increase in the public's partisan prejudice between 2014 and 2017. Divides in feeling thermometer ratings of the two political parties remained stable, and there was no overall increase in measures of partisan prejudice between periods. This is consistent with results from the 2012 and 2016 ANES. Moreover, the most affectively polarized members of the public became no more likely to hold prejudicial attitudes toward the other party. Despite an intervening campaign with elevated elite hostility and rampant postelection discord, the limits on partisan prejudice identified in prior research remain in place. This stability is important for understanding the nature and malleability of partisan affect.

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Westwood, S. J., Peterson, E., & Lelkes, Y. (2019). Are there Still Limits on Partisan Prejudice? Public Opinion Quarterly, 83(3), 584–597. https://doi.org/10.1093/poq/nfz034

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