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The Policy Polarization of Party Activists in the United States

  • Author(s): Collitt, S
  • Highton, B
  • et al.
Abstract

This article investigates how a key stratum of the partisan elite—party activists—have been positioned across time and policy issues. We examine the extent to which activists have polarized symmetrically or asymmetrically and find that only on the issue of abortion has one party’s activists (Republicans) polarized notably more than the other’s. The article also analyzes party activist proximity to the mass public’s policy preferences and finds that Democrats are consistently closer to the public on economic issues, and Republicans are consistently closer on a subset of non-economic issues. Our findings suggest the need for more nuanced theories of party activism and polarization along with providing a useful lens through which to view party electoral competition.

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