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Ongoing project

Feelings and politics: Does affective polarization increase over time and during an election campaign period?

Project period 2020 - 2021

Feelings and politics: Does affective polarization increase over time and during an election campaign period?

Political polarization can be expressed in many ways. It can be increasing ideological distance between different voter groups, deeper divisions in the view of important issues, and stronger negative feelings towards other voter groups – so-called affective polarization. While it is difficult to imagine a healthy democracy characterized by deliberation around central social issues without some form of issue polarization, affective polarization, more grounded in identity and in-group/out-group thinking, can be seen as more problematic. In the US, researchers have shown that affective polarization has increased significantly over the past decade.

In this project, we use data from the Norwegian National Election Study to study the possible change in affective polarization among Norwegian voters. We study this in two ways. First, we examine the change and stability of affective polarization among Norwegian voters over a period of more than 40 years. Second, we study whether affective polarization occurs during an election campaign period. Electoral campaigns are particularly crucial periods in democratic societies, as voters are informed about political alternatives and party politics. During these periods, the focus on politics and party competition is particularly intense. The question is whether these periods of intense policy focus contribute to affective polarization in the electorate.

Participants

Audun Beyer PhD Senior Research Fellow +47 402 23 626 Send e-mail
Atle Hennum Haugsgjerd PhD Senior Research Fellow +47 930 58 583 Send e-mail
Rune Karlsen PhD Research Professor (20% position) Send e-mail
Published Jan. 20, 2020 9:18 AM - Last modified Jan. 20, 2020 9:20 AM