Voters’ Preferences for Parties’ Moral Rhetoric

Speaker: Jae-Hee jung

University of Oxford

Abstract:  Moral rhetoric in party messages can be seen as parties' attempts to represent voters' moral values. It is unclear, however, how voters feel about such messages of moral representation. Do voters want parties to use moral rhetoric? Based on insights about the link between morality and politics, I argue that moral rhetoric is preferred by a broad set of voters, including copartisans and non-copartisans. I posit that moral rhetoric is appealing to not only supporters of the party, but also non-supporters who hold high moral convictions about politics. Using original survey data from six countries, I present evidence in support of my argument. The finding that moral rhetoric is attractive to voters beyond the party base provides important nuance to existing claims that morality polarizes politics. The paper contributes to research on party competition, morality and politics, and representation.

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