Populism and Candidate Support in the US: The Effects of “Thin” and “Host” Ideology

Bruno Castanho Silva, Fabian Guy Neuner, Christopher Wratil

Publications: Contribution to journalArticlePeer Reviewed


Much of the contemporary literature on populism focuses on its status as a “thin” ideology comprising three key components: people-centrism, anti-elitism, and anti-pluralism. Populist politicians pair this “thin” ideology with extreme positions on policy issues such as immigration or taxation (referred to as “host” or “thick” ideologies). A recent study using German samples leveraged conjoint experiments to disentangle the effects of these appeals on vote choice. The results not only showed that extreme host-ideological positions mattered more than so-called “thin” populist appeals, but also that effects of populist appeals were nearly identical among populist and non-populist voters. Our replication in the US context reaffirms both the importance of host-ideological positions and the lack of heterogeneous effects by voters’ “thin” populist attitudes. Furthermore, by uncovering some divergence from the German case (e.g. anti-elite appeals trumping people-centric appeals), we highlight the need to experimentally examine the effects of populism’s constituent components across contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)438-447
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Political Science
Issue number3
Early online date16 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2023

Austrian Fields of Science 2012

  • 506014 Comparative politics


  • Populism
  • populist voting
  • populist attitudes
  • campaign appeals
  • conjoint experiment

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