Skip to main content
Policy divergence and voter polarization in a structural model of elections
Journal of Law and Economics (2014)
  • Stefan Krasa, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Mattias K Polborn
One of the most widely discussed phenomena in American politics today is the perceived increasing partisan divide that splits the U.S. electorate. A contested question is whether this diagnosis is actually true, and if so, what is the underlying cause. We propose a new method that simultaneously estimates voter preferences and the parties' positions on economic and ``cultural'' issues. We apply the model to U.S. presidential elections between 1972 and 2008. The model recovers candidates' positions from voter behavior; decomposes changes in the overall political polarization of the electorate into changes in the distribution of voter ideal positions (``voter radicalization'') and consequences of elite polarization (``sorting''); and determines the characteristics of voters who changed their party allegiance.
  • Polarization,
  • differentiated candidates,
  • policy divergence,
  • ideology
Publication Date
Citation Information
Stefan Krasa and Mattias K Polborn. "Policy divergence and voter polarization in a structural model of elections" Journal of Law and Economics Vol. 57 Iss. 1 (2014)
Available at: