Marty Cohen, Mary C. McGrath, Peter Aronow, John Zaller (2016), Ideologically Extreme Candidates in U.S. Presidential Elections, 1948–2012. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 667(1): 126-142. Article first published online: August 17, 2016; Issue published: September 1, 2016. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0002716216660571
Scholars routinely cite the landslide defeats of Barry Goldwater and George McGovern as evidence that American electorates punish extremism in presidential politics. Yet systematic evidence for this view is thin. In this article we use postwar election outcomes to assess the electoral effects of extremism. In testing ten models over the seventeen elections, we find scant evidence of extremism penalties that were either substantively large or close to statistical significance.
Link to article here.