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Nomination Politics and Ideological Polarization: Assessing the Attitudinal Effects of Campaign Involvement

James A. McCann
The Journal of Politics
Vol. 57, No. 1 (Feb., 1995), pp. 101-120
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2960273
Page Count: 20
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Nomination Politics and Ideological Polarization: Assessing the Attitudinal Effects of Campaign Involvement
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Abstract

Many critics of the open presidential nomination system have faulted the democratic reforms of the 1960s and 1970s for increasing the tendency toward ideological polarization within each partisan bloc. Several recent studies, however, downplay the ideological component of nomination campaign mobilization. In contrast to these later revisionists, I find much evidence to support the original charge of ideological polarization during nomination politics. I do so by respecifying the connection between political attitudes and political involvement; activists who worked for one of the more ideologically extreme candidates in 1988 became more committed ideologues themselves as a consequence of their participation. However, rather than damaging the partisan blocs, involvement in an ideologically charged campaign reinforced the activist's commitment to his or her party.

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