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POLI 360, Week 6

by: runnergal

POLI 360, Week 6 POLI 360 001


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These notes cover what was discussed in class during the week of 2/15/16.
American Political Parties
David C. Darmofal
Class Notes
political science, Government
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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by runnergal on Wednesday February 17, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to POLI 360 001 at University of South Carolina taught by David C. Darmofal in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 23 views. For similar materials see American Political Parties in Political Science at University of South Carolina.


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Date Created: 02/17/16
POLI 360 – Lecture 8     Classic Conception of Party Identification o The classic conception of party identification is found in The American Voter by  Campbell, Converse, Miller, and Stokes in the 1960s. o This conception has social­psychological roots:      The Socialization of Party Identification  A person’s first exposure to political parties comes in childhood from  one’s parents. This exposure is very powerful because: The connection between a parent and a child is one of the first  social connections a child makes. There is a very trusting relationship between a parent and a child. The parent­child relationship generally does not compete with  other political socialization influences.  Party identification tends to be particularly influential and resilient  because of the reasons stated above.  Party identification is particularly strong when both parents share the same party identification.  Most people’s party identification does change as they move through  adolescence and young adulthood, when they are exposed to citizens with  different party identifications and different political views. Party  identification usually stabilizes by early adulthood.      Affective Attachment  Classic conception of party identification is also marked by its reliance on  reference group theory: the idea that political parties are the principal  political groups that citizens encounter in U.S. politics.  These groups structure people’s political cognitions.  Citizens affectively (emotionally) identify themselves with a party,  producing psychological benefits.  The critical point is that party identification is not a cold, rational,  emotionless identification in The America Voter’s conception.  Essentially, party identification can be devoid of any political content.      Stable Orientation  Party identification is generally resistant to change because it is a  socialized, emotional attachment.  Party identification does not usually change in response to changes in  candidates or issues.  When party identification does change, it is because of Idiosyncratic factors: changes in jobs, marital status, moving, etc. These are random changes and do not produce macropartisanship (critical, aggregate changes in partisanship). Systemic factors: due to political crises or marked changes in  political issues. These factors produce larger changes in  macropartisanship. These changes are rare; they happen about  every 30 years.     Funnel of Causality o The funnel is temporally ordered; earlier political and social influences produce a  perpetual screen that influences the perception of subsequent political phenomena. For example, parental Democratic influence will not result in Republican votes  later in life. o The earliest influence in the funnel is early childhood socialization. o Next comes party identification, which then influences how citizens evaluate  subsequent political candidates and issues. o These evaluations shape voting decisions, which are at the end of the funnel of  causality. o Essentially, early childhood socialization  party identification  evaluation of  subsequent political candidates and issues  voting decisions. POLI 360 – Lecture 9  Measuring Party Identification o The American Voter’s conception of party identification as a stable, long­term  identification shaped the measurement of party identification. o This measurement is based on a 7­point scale, with 1 = Strong Democrat, 4 = Pure Independent, and 7 = Strong Republican. o Researchers used to ask who people voted for in the last presidential election, but  that only showed people’s voting tendencies.   Challenges to   The American Voter  ’s Conception of Party Identification o The American Voter was written at the end of the 1950s, which was an unusually  apolitical decade. Therefore, it is understandable that party identification would  appear stable. o In contrast, the 1960s had much political change; there was evidence that party  identification was influenced by candidates. For example, party identification  declined in years where a party’s presidential candidate suffered a large defeat;  for example, Republican Party identification declined in 1964 when JFK was  elected, and Democratic Party identification in 1972 declined when Nixon was  elected president.  Party Identity’s Susceptibility to Short­Term Political Influences o Page and Jones (1979) discovered that party identification did not act in the 1970s the way that The American Voter predicted. o Party identification was influenced by candidate evaluations and party preferences in the 1976 elections. This indicates that party identification is less stable and  more political than The American Voter previously found.  This is especially true because the 1976 election was especially apolitical;  southern Democrat Jimmy Carter ran against northern Republican Gerald  Ford. If this election showed signs of polarization, then what about a  normal election? o Party identification is no longer the “unmoved mover” that The American Voter  predicted. o Franklin and Jackson (1983) found that party identification displays both elements of The American Voter’s socialized identification and of a more immediate  political attitude shaped by short­term factors. o They say party identification is shaped by:  Past party identification: as a voter ages, past party identification becomes  more influential on current party identification.  Current evaluations of parties’ policies positions. o Therefore, current political issues do shape party identification, but they do not  determine it; party identification is a product of both short­term and long­term  factors.  Retrospective Evaluations o Fiorina (1981) offered one of the most influential analyses of party identification. o He argues that party identification reflects a combination of factors:  Past party identification  Retrospective evaluations of past party performance (this effects the  incumbent party).  Prospective evaluations of expected future party performance (this affects  both parties). o These retrospective evaluations are mediated retrospective evaluations; they are  not based on personal experience, but instead on news. Pocketbook voting (the  idea that people vote on how they themselves are doing financially) is not  applicable. Retrospective evaluations are not simple (personal) retrospective  evaluations. o Sociotropic voting is voting based on society is doing, not individuals. People  tend to take ownership of their personal problems. o Essentially, Fiorina believes that party identification is a running tally of parties’  expected and past performance.  Has Party Identification Declined? o There has been a definitive movement toward citizens responding as independents in surveys. o Keith et al. argue that party identification with major parties has not declined.  Much of the increase in Independents is not among Pure Independents, but rather  among Independent Leaners. o Pure Independents and Independent Leaners differ significantly. o Pure Independents trail all other groups on the 1­7 partisan scale in their political  information and political interests. In contrast, Independent Leaners usually  surpass weak partisans and even match strong partisans in political information  and political interests. o Pure Independents fluctuate significantly in the party they vote for from  presidential election to presidential elections, whereas Independent Leaners are  even more likely to vote with their partisanship than weak partisans. o This suggests that there has not been a marked decline in party identification. o People are now less likely to report an immediate identification with a party.  Their voting behavior, however, is more partisan than some party identifiers. o This also implies that party identification is a multidimensional concept. o Citizens may value both political independence and partisanship. Citizens may  not view political independence as the absence of partisanship, but instead as  being able to make independent decisions that are not completely determined by  partisanship.


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