Back to Top

Can Citizens Care Too Much? Investment in Election Outcomes and Perceptions of Electoral Legitimacy

Might there be a downside to citizen engagement with elections? The tendency for citizens who supported a winning candidate or party to be more supportive of the democratic system and more trusting of government than supporters of the losers has been well documented. I test the extent to which individual-level investment in a presidential election campaign amplifies effects of winning or losing using the online component of the 2008 NAES to track the same individuals' from pre-election to postelection. The analysis provides strong evidence of amplifying effects of investment on the relationship between winning or losing and perceptions of electoral legitimacy. Certain types of investment policy agreement and participation appear to hold significant implications only for losers and not winners.