Partisan Social Norms in American Politics
Social norms have powerful impacts on the way that members of different social groups think and behave. Despite the fact that partisanship is perhaps the most important cleavage in the American political context, little work has been done to study the existence or impact of social norms within partisan groups. This dissertation uses in-depth interviews, original surveys, experiments, and various computational methods to make three main arguments. First, that Republicans and Democrats hold different social norms. Specifically, I show that Democrats tend to evaluate one another based on how well they care for marginalized groups like racial minorities, women, and the poor. Republicans tend to evaluate one another based on how closely they adhere to conservative principles, how obedient they are to Christian moral tenets, and how they respect the country and its symbols. Second, that presidential candidates use those norms to improve their own standing and to harm the standing of their opponents. Third, that candidates who break these social norms are punished electorally by their co-partisans.