Reassessing the Effects of Emotions on Turnout

Joseph B. Phillips, Eric Plutzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Discrete emotions such as anger, pride, worry, and hopefulness have been shown to predict candidate preferences, issue attitudes, reports of participation other than voting, and stated intention to participate in various civic and electoral activities. Yet we know very little about how emotions might affect the most fundamental individual act in a democracy: turning out to vote. Using original survey data linked to past and future validated turnout to form four three-wave panels, we find that worry was a significant mobilizer of turnout in the 2018 midterm election, while enthusiasm was not. We also find that measures of discrete emotions have detectable impacts on turnout only when respondents are prompted to think about political stimuli. These results have implications for theory, measurement, and model specification that should inform future work on the effects of emotions on political participation generally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1094-1106
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Politics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

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