Social networks of independents and partisans: Are independents a moderating force?

Thom Reilly, Eric Hedberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

While scholars have long recognized that social networks impact political engagement for partisans, comparatively little work has examined the role of networks for independent voters. In this article, we contribute to existing research on social networks and politics by surveying Arizona registered voters about their political persuasion, personal networks, and media consumption habits. Our findings show that independents have networks that are structurally different from partisans. Specifically, we found that both Democrat and Republican respondents were more likely to frequently talk about politics with independents than with members of the opposing party. Independents were also less likely than partisans to end a friendship over a political dispute. Taken together these findings show that independents may be frequent and reliable discussion partners for partisans and may be able to moderate political views. We find evidence for the moderating force of independents is especially apparent in the media consumption habits of Republican respondents. Related Articles: Cormack, Lindsey. 2019. “Leveraging Peer-to-Peer Connections to Increase Voter Participation in Local Elections.” Politics & Policy 47(2): 248–66. https://doi.org/10.1111/polp.12297. Malmberg, Fredrik G., and Henrik Serup Christensen. 2021. “Voting Women, Protesting Men: A Multilevel Analysis of Corruption, Gender, and Political Participation.” Politics & Policy 49(1): 126–61. https://doi.org/10.1111/polp.12393. Rowe, Andrew D., and David E. Pitfield. 2019. “The Challenge of Social Media Incorporation: A Case Study of HACAN Clearskies.” Politics & Policy 47(4): 775–806. https://doi.org/10.1111/polp.12319.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-243
Number of pages19
JournalPolitics and Policy
Volume50
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Arizona
  • democracy and participation
  • independent voters
  • media consumption
  • partisanship
  • political behavior
  • political communications
  • political engagement
  • social networks
  • United States
  • voter identification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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