Do right-wing and left-wing authoritarianism predict election outcomes? Support for Obama and Trump across two United States presidential elections

Lucian Gideon Conway, James D. McFarland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Recent research suggests authoritarianism may play a key role in election outcomes, yet that work has focused almost exclusively on right-wing authoritarianism. In the present work, we compare the ability of Right-Wing Authoritarianism (RWA) and Left-Wing Authoritarianism (LWA) to predict support for candidates during two U.S. Presidential elections (total n = 1582). Samples of Americans who reported their support for each candidate after both the 2008 (n = 467) and 2016 (n = 1115) elections revealed that LWA was a better predictor of support for Obama during the 2008 election, whereas RWA was a better predictor of support for Trump during the 2016 election. LWA and RWA were both weaker predictors of the candidate that ultimately lost in each election. Implications for current understanding of (1) the connection between authoritarianism and election outcomes, and (2) the predictive power of authoritarianism (as distinguished from self-reported political identity) are both discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-87
Number of pages4
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Volume138
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019

Keywords

  • Left-wing authoritarianism
  • Obama
  • Right-wing authoritarianism
  • Trump
  • U.S. presidential elections

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