“How Federalism Plus Polarization Create Distrust in American Elections (and Evidence for a Potential Solution),” Mackenzie Lockhart, Yale

Event time: 
Friday, February 9, 2024 - 12:00pm through 1:15pm
Institution for Social and Policy Studies (PROS77 ), A002
77 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511
Mackenzie Lockhart, Postdoctoral Associate with Democratic Innovations at the Institution for Social and Policy Studies, Yale University University
Event description: 


Abstract: The Constitution grants states the power to manage elections, yet this poses formidable challenges in polarized and partisan state contexts. Despite non-partisan election officials using consistent methods for ballot protection nationwide, voters often rely on their knowledge of policy conflicts to gauge trust in other states’ elections. Through a nationally representative survey, we find that trust in one’s own state elections exceeds trust in those of other states. This gap is more pronounced for California and Texas, known for one-party ideological control. A survey experiment demonstrates that non-partisan messages from these states’ officials can boost trust across state and party boundaries. Texas messaging enhances trust in Texas elections for Californians and Coloradans, while California messaging builds trust in California elections for Texans and Georgians. Strikingly, this trust boost occurs regardless of respondents’ party affiliations, indicating that a robust public information campaign could mitigate polarized trust in election integrity across states.

Mackenzie Lockhart is a Postdoctoral Associate with the Democratic Innovations program at Yale’s Institution for Social and Policy Studies. He received a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, San Diego in 2023. His research focuses on elections, representation, and public opinion with particular focus on how voters behave in American elections and consequences for representation.

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