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Ethnonationalism and anti-immigration sentiments are increasingly influencing voting behavior in Western countries. This study investigated the role of xenophobia in explaining support for right-wing parties and whether xenophobia correlates with the same psychological variables among voters of a radical right-wing party (Sweden Democrats, Sverigedemokraterna, N=2217) and a mainstream right-wing party (Conservative Party, Moderaterna, N=634) in Sweden. In both voter groups, Right-Wing Authoritarianism was the strongest predictor of xenophobia. Also, Social Dominance Orientation, (less) postmaterialist values, sexist attitudes, (low) Agreeableness, and higher age explained variance in xenophobia. As for voter mobility, xenophobia was more common among Sweden Democrat voters than among Conservative Party voters and, in both voter groups, respondents with high (vs. low) xenophobia had more positive views on the Sweden Democrats. Intended Sweden Democrat (vs. the Conservative Party) voting was predicted by less right-leaning socioeconomic attitudes and higher institutional distrust (among voters with both low and high xenophobia), Right-Wing Authoritarianism and sexism (voters with low xenophobia), and/or male gender (voters with high xenophobia). To conclude, the concept of xenophobia still seems to successfully capture anti-immigrant attitudes, correlates with psychological variables as expected in both voter groups, and helps partly explain the contemporary changes in voting behavior.
This research was supported by a grant awarded by the Swedish Research Council [grant number 2016-01995] to Jens Rydgren, and grants awarded by Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation [grant number 2016.0167 and 2017.0257] to Pontus Strimling.
Xenophobia among radical and mainstream rightwing party voters: Prevalence, correlates, and effects on voter mobility