Using Moral Foundations to Predict Voting Behavior: Regression Models from the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election

Andrew S. Franks, Kyle C. Scherr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations

Abstract

The current research examined the ability of moral foundations to predict candidate choice in the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election across three studies. Results indicated that endorsement of moral foundations predicted voting outcomes beyond that predicted by important demographic variables that are traditionally included in election forecasts and research. When moral foundations were collapsed into two variables (individualizing and binding foundations), increased endorsement of the individualizing foundations consistently predicted support for Barack Obama, and increased endorsement of the binding foundations consistently predicted support for Mitt Romney. The most reliable unique predictor of candidate choice among the five separate foundations was purity, which strongly motivated support for Mitt Romney. Additionally, increased endorsement of the fairness foundation uniquely predicted support for Barack Obama. The effects observed across the three studies demonstrate a direct relationship between moral foundations endorsements and candidate choice. Implications for those using moral appeals in their political influence strategies are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-232
Number of pages20
JournalAnalyses of Social Issues and Public Policy
Volume15
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

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