Median Voters’ Happiness Cycles in the United States Along the Nation’s Principal Political Fault Line

Brian J.L. Berry, Rubia R. Valente, Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Data from the General Social Survey are used to examine the political polarization in the United States, by examining presidential periods from 1972 to 2018. Our findings indicate that there has been an increased correlation between party identification and ideological identification, resulting in a steady shift towards the extremes. Furthermore, we explore how subjective wellbeing plays a role in driving this polarization. American politics is polarized between happy conservative Republicans and unhappy liberal Democrats. Oscillating in the “happiness gap” between these extremes are median voters whose happiness, low on average, falls the longer in power the party of the opposing ideology. It is the rise and fall of median voters’ unhappiness that drives the regime change between the two major political parties in the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-349
Number of pages29
JournalApplied Research in Quality of Life
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

Keywords

  • Big sort
  • General Social Survey
  • Happiness cycles
  • Median voter
  • Politics

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