Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Political Science

First Advisor

Conor Dowling

Second Advisor

Miles T. Armaly

Third Advisor

Jonathan Klingler

Relational Format



Affective polarization is on the rise, which makes understanding the origins of it increasingly important. Some work finds that partisan sorting is associated with increased polarization, due to a lack of exposure to conflicting opinions as well as the ease of making generalizations about the opposing side (Iyengar2019-zg). Individuals with more closely aligned ideological and partisan identities are more likely to exhibit hostility towards the other party, and react more emotionally to information that threatens their party or issue stance (Mason2015). The aim of this paper is to analyze how contextual factors, specifically the partisan distribution of an area, can influence affective polarization. Building off of the loss aversion literature, I theorize that individuals in the majority party are likely to exhibit lower levels of out-party affect, and therefore greater affective polarization, than individuals in the minority party. Using electoral returns from presidential elections to proxy state party identity and American National Elections Studies data from 2008-2016, I find a modest, but statistically significant, association between party status and affective polarization and out-party affect.



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