To understand how many votes a voting bloc contributes to a candidate’s total, we must also consider a bloc’s size and its turnout rate. Taking these into account, we find that Trump’s most significant gains came from whites with moderate attitudes about race and immigration. Trump’s vote totals improved the most among swing voters: low-socioeconomic status whites who are political moderates. Our analysis demonstrates that focusing only on vote choice is insufficient to explain sources of candidate support in the electorate.
An extensive literature purports to demonstrate the limits of partisan selectivity in exposure to online news. Contrary to these accounts, we use behavioral web-tracking data collected over the 2016 U.S. general election to demonstrate that partisans’ news encounters are directed primarily at sources favored by co-partisans and all-purpose portal sites, while more antagonistic news outlets are given little attention.
The growing ideological gulf between Democrats and Republicans is one of the biggest issues in American politics today. Our legislatures, composed of members from two sharply disagreeing parties, are struggling to function as the founders intended them to. If we want to reduce the ideological gulf in our legislatures, we must first understand what has caused it to widen so much over the past forty years.
Combining a regression discontinuity design in close primary races with survey and administrative data on individual voter turnout, we find that extremist nominees—as measured by the mix of campaign contributions they receive—suffer electorally, largely because they decrease their party’s share of turnout in the general election, skewing the electorate towards their opponent’s party. The results help show how the behavioral and institutional literatures can be connected.