Moral Values and Voting
This paper studies the supply of and demand for moral values in recent U.S. presidential elections. Using a combination of large-scale survey data and text analyses, I find support for the hypothesis that both voters and politicians exhibit heterogeneity in their emphasis on universalist relative to communal moral values, and that politicians’ vote shares partly reflect the extent to which their moral appeal matches the values of the electorate. Over the last decade, Americans’ values have become increasingly communal – especially in rural areas – which generated increased moral polarization and is associated with changes in voting patterns across space.
I am grateful to Jesse Graham and Jonathan Haidt for generous data sharing. For helpful comments I thank very constructive referees, Alberto Alesina, Leo Bursztyn, Matt Gentzkow, Ed Glaeser, Nathan Hendren, Emir Kamenica, Max Kasy, Gianmarco León-Ciliotta, Shengwu Li, Nathan Nunn, Andrei Shleifer, David Yang, and in particular Jesse Shapiro. I also received helpful comments from seminar audiences at Berkeley, CMU, Harvard, MPI Bonn, Stanford, the 2018 NBER Political Economy Summer Institute, BEAM 2018, ECBE 2018 Bergen, and the 2019 UPF Conference on the Political Economy of Development and Conflict. Joe Kidson, William Murdock, and Patricia Sun provided outstanding research assistance. Financial support from Harvard LEAP is gratefully acknowledged. The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Benjamin Enke, 2020. "Moral Values and Voting," Journal of Political Economy, vol 128(10), pages 3679-3729.