Research projects

 

Far-right parties

VOXgifWhat to do about a problem like the radical right? – in progress

Abstract: Reactions to the rise of far-right parties that advocate democratic backsliding and the dilution of socially liberal democratic norms present a a dilemma for existing political parties. How should  existing political parties respond to this challenge? A commonly adopted strategy is to apply a cordon sanitaire which excludes radical right-wing challengers from the government-forming process. Do voters support this policy? Leveraging data from Spain, I rely on individual citizens’ views on how parties should respond to rise of the new far-right party, VOX, to answer this questions. Empirically, I find very low level support for the cordon sanitaire. Indeed, the median position of the electoral, regardless of their ideological position, is to treat the party just like any other. These results are also not conditioned by the propensity of individuals to identify VOX as indeed a radical right party. The findings suggest that whilst radical right-wing parties may present an inimical threat to democratic norms, citizens do not necessarily view the means of squashing this threat to be one of strategic exclusion. 

Partisanship, Campaigns,  & voter mobilisation

Negative Political Identities and Costly Political Action.
(with Katharina Lawall, Joshua Townsley and Florian Foos) –  presented at APSA 2021 and EPSA 2022

Abstract: Elite and mass level politics in many Western democracies is increasingly characterised by the expression of negative feelings towards political out-groups. While the existence of these feelings is well-documented, there is little evidence on the consequences of activating these identities during election campaigns. Can political campaigns use negative political identity cues to raise donations? We test whether fundraising emails containing negative or positive political identity cues lead supporters of a party to donate money via a large pre-registered digital field experiment conducted in collaboration with a British political party. We find that emails containing negative as opposed to positive identity cues lead to a higher number and frequency of donations. We also find that negative identity cues were only effective when paired with an issue cue rather than a traditional party identity cue, resulting in a 15% increase in the probability of donating over the untreated control. Our results provide novel experimental evidence on behavioural effects of activating political identities in real-world political campaigns.

“I am Iron Man!”: Heroizing and Villainizing Partisan Identities via Outgroup Projection Bias.
(with Markus Wagner) –  in progress

Abstract: Building upon insights in social psychology and developments in affective polarisation, we present a theoretical argument positing that how individuals with partisan identities project their own identities – as well as those of partisans to which they they are negatively predisposed onto individuals they view as virtuous or malevolent.  Leveraging an original conjoint experiment in the US and the UK we find strong empirical support for our theory. Subgroup analysis demonstrates, however, that the prevalence of outgroup projection onto perceived malevolent individuals is not symmetrical among partisans across the aisle. Consistent with evidence of higher levels of negative affect among the left towards the rights, we find that Democrats (US) and Labour voters (UK) are significantly more prone to villainise the out-groups than their corresponding rivals on the political right.