American Government and Politics

Who Will Defend Democracy? Evaluating Tradeoffs in Candidate Support Among Partisan Donors and Voters

Authors

Abstract

Scholars and pundits fear that the American public's commitment to democracy is declining and that citizens are willing to embrace candidates who would trample democratic principles. We examine whether violations of those principles generate resistance from both voters and top campaign donors and whether such resistance extends across partisan lines. In a conjoint survey experiment, we investigate how regular citizens and donor elites trade off partisanship, policy positions, and support for democratic values when choosing between hypothetical political candidates. Our findings indicate that both citizens and donors punish candidates who endorse violations of democratic principles irrespective of party. However, we find partisan polarization (especially among donors) in the effects of candidates supporting voter identification laws that threaten access to the franchise. These results suggest that the public and donors may sometimes be willing to forgive transgressions against democratic norms that align with their partisan and policy preferences.

Version notes

minor changes

Content

Thumbnail image of who-will-defend-democracy-evaluating-tradeoffs-in-candidate-support-among-partisan-donors-and-voters.pdf

Comments

Log in or register with APSA to comment
Comments are not moderated before they are posted, but they can be removed by the site moderators if they are found to be in contravention of our Commenting Policy [opens in a new tab] – please read this policy before you post. Comments should be used for scholarly discussion of the content in question. You can find more information about how to use the commenting feature here [opens in a new tab] .