New conference papers

The following represent current work in progress. Papers are removed from the list when published as chapters or journal articles.

Understanding Brexit: Cultural resentments versus economic grievances.

Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart

This study considers the evidence for ‘demand-side’ theories seeking to explain the outcome of the Brexit referendum and subsequent divisions in UK politics.  Economic theories suggest that the Leave decision was driven mainly by the ‘left-behinds’ in jobs or wages, such as those living in struggling communities in the North of England, the Midlands, and Wales.  By contrast cultural accounts emphasize political attitudes and values, including long-term British suspicion about the European Union project, public disgust with the political class at Westminster, anxiety about the effects of the refugee crisis and  migration from other EU countries, and opposition to the government’s austerity cuts. These theories can also be regarded as complimentary rather than rivals, for example if economic deprivation catalyzed resentment about immigrants and the rejection of open borders.

To examine these issues, Part I sets out the electoral context and historical background in the run up to Brexit – and its implications for party competition in the UK. Drawing upon a larger book-length study, Part II sets out the arguments based on economic and cultural theories about the British electorate. Part III describes the evidence from the British Election Study panel surveys, which allows us to examine the factors dividing supporters in the Leave and Remain camps in the 2016 Brexit referendum, as well as those predicting support for UKIP from 2015-17.  Part IV examines the impact of demographic control factors like age and sex, indicators of economic grievances, and the cultural profile of voters in their authoritarian and populist values, as well as their attitudes towards the Europe Union, immigration, and left-right ideology.   The conclusion in Part V considers developments since Brexit and their implications for the future of populism in the UK. The main advocate of Brexit, UKIP, succeeded in attaining this goal, but then failed to achieve a decisive break through as a parliamentary party. Yet authoritarian-populism remains alive and well in post-Brexit Britain, absorbed into the bloodstream of the body politic, disrupting and dividing both major parties.

Date uploaded: 1 August 2018

Paper for presentation at the Panel on ‘Populism in Advanced Capitalist Democracies’, Thursday 30 August 4.00-5.30pm at the American Political Science Association’s annual convention, Boston.  



Do public perceptions of electoral malpractice undermine democratic satisfaction?  The U.S. in comparative perspective

Pippa Norris

Abstract: Doubts about the legitimacy of the 2016 U.S. elections continue to reverberate and deepen partisan mistrust in America. The perfect storm followed Republican allegations of fake news and massive voter fraud, Democratic complaints of voter suppression and gerrymandering, discontent with the way that the Electoral College anointed the presidential candidate who lost the popular vote,  compounded by Comey’s interventions and intelligence reports of Russian meddling.

These issues raise the broader question: how serious do any perceived electoral flaws usually have to be to raise doubts not just about the process and results – or even the legitimacy of the declared winner - but about democracy itself?  Do ordinary people actually care most about the quality of their elections (input legitimacy) or are they more concerned with the pocket-book economy of jobs, growth, and taxes (output legitimacy) and/or are attitudes shaped by partisan cues (the winners-losers thesis)? And how do  attitudes vary among electoral winners and losers?

To understand these issues, Part I outlines the theoretical and conceptual framework. Part II describes the evidence used to investigate these issues drawing upon cross-national data from the World Values Survey 6th wave in 42 diverse societies and from the 7th wave U.S. survey, as well as expert indices measuring the quality of elections.    Part III establishes the key cross-national findings.  Part IV presents the US results.  Part V summarizes the key findings and overall implications, demonstrating that doubts about electoral integrity undermine general satisfaction with how democracy works.


Paper for the panel on  ‘Election dynamics in the developing world’ at the American Political Science Association annual convention, Boston, 4.00-5.30pm  on Saturday 1 September 2018.

Previously presented in panel GS05.04 on ‘Elections and Democratic Attitudes’ at the International Political Science Association World Congress, Brisbane, 15.30-17.15 on Thursday 23 July 2018.

Date uploaded: 13 July 2018


Roswell, Grassy Knolls, and Voter Fraud: Explaining erroneous perceptions of electoral malpractices

Pippa Norris, Holly Ann Garnett, and Max Grömping

Abstract: Why do many Americans believe that millions of fraudulent votes were cast when independent evidence refutes this claim? This study seeks to explain the reasons behind errors in public evaluations about electoral malpractices. Part I considers long-standing debates about the rational public and reviews evidence from several polls demonstrating the extent of perceptual flaws in American beliefs about electoral fraud. Part II outlines the theoretical framework to explain this phenomenon. We propose that erroneous beliefs could potentially arise from citizen’s cognitive skills, partisan and media cues, and psychological predispositions. Part III describes the research design. Errors in perceptions of fair vote counts are estimated as the difference between public assessments of malpractices (measured at individual-level within states in the 2016 American National Election Study)  and independent evaluations from experts (derived by the 2016 U.S. Perceptions of Electoral Integrity study in U.S. states).  Part IV presents the results of the analysis.  The conclusion in Part V summarizes the key findings and considers their implications.

Paper for presentation at the Electoral Integrity Project Workshop “Protecting electoral security & voting rights: The 2016 U.S. elections in comparative perspective” 30th August 2017, Westin St Francis Hotel, San Francisco.

Date uploaded: 18 Aug 2017

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Cultural backlash: Values and voting for populist authoritarian parties in Europe

Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart

Abstract: Rising voting support for parties blending populist and authoritarian appeals has disrupted mainstream party competition in many European societies – and had major consequences worldwide. What explains this phenomenon? We theorize that an important part of any explanation lies in perceived cultural threats,  where rapid and profound value change in post-industrial societies during recent decades have affected core feelings of social identity, wrapped around values of family, faith and nation. These developments have generated a ‘cultural backlash’ activating authoritarian values and voting support for populist parties with authoritarian policy positions, especially among  older and non-college educated citizens.

To consider these issues, Part I develops the conceptual and theoretical framework. Part II estimates the ideological position of all European political parties on Authoritarian and Populist indexes, from expert CHES data. We also operationalize and measures Authoritarian and Populist values in the mass electorate, from the pooled European Social Survey 2002-2014. Part III uses multilevel models to examine the links between values and votes. The conclusion summarizes the key findings and considers their implications.

Keywords: populist parties and leaders, authoritarianism, radical right, elections, democracy, cultural value change, economic insecurity

Paper presented at the panel on “The Roots of the New Populism” Friday, September 1, 4:00 to 5:30pm, Hilton Union Square, Nob Hill 10, the American Political Science Association annual meeting, San Francisco.

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Uploaded: 2 Sept 2017