How the Identity Politics Argument Affects a Party’s Choices

Every election is followed by an effort to make sense of its the results. This effort is pretty natural, and probably necessary, for political observers and for candidates and parties trying to figure out the best way forward, especially after a loss. But what is the consequence of going with one interpretation over another?

I examined this using a survey experiment, and I wrote up the results for a paper that I’ll be presenting this week at the annual convention of the American Political Science Association. Basically, I was interested in knowing whether the argument that Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential race due to “identity politics” changed voters’ perceptions of the 2020 election. That is, I was curious if that argument caused voters to desire different sorts of candidates and a repositioning of the Democratic Party.

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