Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.


From ferromagnets to electoral instability

An electoral model predicts that polarized and alienated voters lead to unstable elections, like phase transitions in an Ising model. Such physics-inspired models may help political scientists devise electoral reforms to quench instability.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1.

    Siegenfeld, A. F. & Bar-Yam, Y. Nat. Phys. (2020).

  2. 2.

    Wood, B. D. & Jordan, S. Party Polarization in America: The War Over Two Social Contracts (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2017).

  3. 3.

    Abramowitz, A. I. & Saunders, K. L. J. Politics 70, 542–555 (2008).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    MacKuen, M. B., Erikson, R. S. & Stimson, J. A. Am. Political Sci. Rev. 83, 1125–1142 (1989).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Grimmer, J., Hersh, E., Meredith, M., Mummolo, J. & Nall, C. J. Politics 80, 1045–1051 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Kalla, J. L. & Broockman, D. E. Am. Political Sci. Rev. 112, 148–166 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Downs, A. An Economic Theory of Democracy (Harpers and Row, 1957).

  8. 8.

    Poole, K. T. & Rosenthal, H. L. Ideology and Congress (Oxford Univ. Press, 2007).

  9. 9.

    Hall, A. B. & Thompson, D. M. Am. Political Sci. Rev. 112, 509–524 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Plutzer, E. Am. Political Sci. Rev. 96, 41–56 (2002).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Abramowitz, A. I. & Webster, S. W. Adv. Political Psychol. 39, 119–135 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Webster, S. W. Am. Behav. Sci. 62, 127–145 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Broockman, D. E., Carnes, N., Crowder-Meyer, M. & Skovron, C. Br. J. Political Sci. (2019).

  14. 14.

    Ahler, D. J., Citrin, J. & Lenz, G. S. Legislative Stud. Q. 41, 237–268 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Soren Jordan.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Jordan, S. From ferromagnets to electoral instability. Nat. Phys. 16, 125–126 (2020).

Download citation

Further reading


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing