Does fraud trump partisanship? The impact of contentious elections on voter confidence

<p>Fraudulent elections can reduce citizen trust in elections and other political institutions. But what about the impact of contentious elections that resolve successfully, leading to democratizing change? Do national movements toward democracy trump individual experiences with electoral manipulation? Using public opinion survey data collected before and after the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine, we evaluate changes in voter confidence in electoral practices, political institutions, and democracy. Although national trends show increased voter confidence overall, subnational variation suggests pervasive partisan differences in opinions about election quality and institutional confidence. Remarkably, we find that direct exposure to fraud matters far less than anticipated; voters who were personally exposed to fraud felt no more or less confident than their co-partisans. We show that partisanship and the national electoral context may interact in ways that complicate the effects of democratizing elections, suggesting important avenues for future research.</p>