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Partisan De- alignment : A more competitive electoral environment . Dr. Matthew Wall, Political Campaigns: Week 2. Structure of today’s talk. 1) Discuss foundational literature in electoral behaviour , focusing on the Michigan Model and the notion of party identification.

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partisan de alignment a more competitive electoral environment

Partisan De-alignment: A more competitiveelectoralenvironment.

Dr. Matthew Wall, Political Campaigns: Week 2

structure of today s talk
Structure of today’s talk
  • 1) Discuss foundational literature in electoral behaviour, focusing on the Michigan Model and the notion of party identification.
  • 2) Outline observed patterns of weakening party identification in established industrial democracies.
  • 3) Outline the consequences of this decline for the electoral environment and political campaigning.
  • 4) Discuss the groups’ orientations towards political parties.
understanding vote choice
Understanding vote choice
  • Seeking to understand an individual’s vote choice is a highly complex and difficult undertaking.
  • Seeking to understand the vote choices of an entire electorate represents an even more demanding challenge.
  • Trying to explain the vote choice generally represents the highest level of difficulty, although this has long been the goal of political scientists in this area.
understanding vote choice1
Understanding vote choice
  • Why is this so difficult?
  • There are so many factors simultaneously involved.
  • Cultures, societies and political systems differ enormously – from place to place and over time. The vast bulk of campaign research has been carried out in the USA – though this is improving.
  • We can only put so much stock in the reasons offered by voters themselves – people are often unaware of the processes that lead them to decision-making.
  • Data collection: representative sampling is most commonly used, field and lab experiments are also popular.
  • Surveys are subject to question wording effects, experiments are often criticized for lacking ‘external validity’.
understanding vote choice2
Understanding vote choice
  • Early research: fears of a manipulable electorate.
  • Context: the build up to World War II and especially the rise of the Nazi party in Germany.
  • Crowd psychology was highly prevalent in the literature.
  • Emerging mass media and simultaneous development of the marketing industry deepened this fear.
  • ‘Propaganda model’ held that citizens would be strongly influenced by mass media content.
understanding vote choice3
Understanding vote choice
  • Arguably the first ‘modern’ study of voting was conducted at Columbia University, beginning in 1960.
  • Lazarsfeld, Berelson, and Gaudetused panel data (repeat observations from the same respondents) in Erie County, Ohio with a sample size of 600 during the 1940 presidential campaign.
  • Their findings ran counter to the ‘propaganda’ model.
understanding vote choice4
Understanding vote choice
  • Key finding: voters tend to be influenced more by personal contacts than by campaign propaganda or media coverage of the election, giving opinion-leaders in communities a special place in the electoral process.
  • Conversion was unusual – voters’ predispositions are rooted in religion and social class and reinforced by their day-to-day interaction with individuals of similar predispositions.
  • Campaigns serve mostly to reinforce pre-existing dispositions.
michigan model
Michigan model
  • Studies led by Angus Campbell carried out by a team of scholars based in the University of Michigan’s Survey research centre.
  • Relied on nationally-representative survey data collected for presidential campaigns in the 1952 and 1956 Presidential elections.
  • The work arising from their analysis of these data The American Voter one of the most influential works ever produced n political science.
michigan model1
Michigan Model
  • Their research contrasted ‘long term’ and ‘short term’ forces influencing vote choice.
  • Outlined long term forces as giving rise to ‘party identification’, a concept derived from the study of social psychology and referent group theory which they define as:
  • ‘an individual's affective orientation to an important group object in his environment’ (p. 121).
  • Party ID Develops as a result of early-life, primarily familial, socialization processes.
  • It typically is highly stable in direction and increases in strength as a function of individuals’ occupational, partnering, and parenting experiences and their repeated exposure to the institutions and processes of the political system as they pass through the life cycle.
party identification
Party identification
  • Party Identification, as well as being a strong direct ‘cue’ for voting behaviour, also has an indirect effect.
  • ‘Identification with a party raises a perceptual screen through which the individual tends to see what is favourable to his partisan orientation’ (Converse et al. 1960: 133).
  • Evaluations of candidates, parties, and issue stances are to some extent ‘filtered’, anchoring voting behaviour.
funnel of causality
Funnel of causality
  • Metaphor of a ‘funnel’ used by Campell et al. to describe this process:
  • Socio-economic status (especially familial) leads to partisan identification, which influences the candidate/party evaluations on issue stances of voters, which influence the election outcome.
  • However, it is important to note that Party ID can change under this model, if and when life circumstances change significantly.
the link between partisanship and perception the suarez incident
The link between partisanship and perception – the Suarez incident
  • Two ‘sins’:
  • Luis Suarez, who had been suspended for racist abuse of PartriceEvra, refused to shake Evra’s hand before a Man U vs. Liverpool game.
  • Patrice Evra celebrates excessively in front of Suarez when Man U win the game.
the link between partisanship and perception the suarez incident1
The link between partisanship and perception – the Suarez incident
  • From posting on Liverpool fan site:
  • ‘Patrice Evra successfully portrayed himself as the victim today but this video below clearly shows it was he who first refused Luis Suarez‘s handshake.
  • The Man United captain moves his hand away as Suarez approaches during the pre-match handshakes.
  • Suarez therefore avoids Evra, while Evra then reaches out – while looking directly into the Sky camera with a look of shock that an esteemed actor would have been proud of – thus making Suarez look like he refused the handshake’.
the link between partisanship and perception the suarez incident2
The link between partisanship and perception – the Suarez incident
  • From posting on Man Utd fan site:
  • ‘come on dude. evra was just celebrating and enjoying the moment. he was happy about the fact that his previous games weren't nyc but he played well in this won and made suarez looked nothing more than a white donkey. and not only him but the whole team was celebrating the win. so whats wrong in that?’
the link between partisanship and perception
The link between partisanship and perception
  • An exaggerated example of the ‘perceptual screen’ elaborated in the Michigan model.
  • Several studies of public opinion have found that, in Zaller’s words: ‘people tend to accept what is congenial to their partisan values and reject what is not’.
  • Furthermore, strong partisans of incumbents are more likely to positively evaluate economic conditions during tenure.
the link between partisanship and perception1
The link between partisanship and perception
  • However, ‘short term’ factors – such as strong perceptions of a given candidate, or a particularly popular/unpopular issue stance can give rise to ‘deviating’ elections – where a significant number of identifiers will vote against their party.
  • Overall, however, the model points towards stability, and little influence of political campaigns.
party loyalty in europe
Party loyalty in Europe
  • Analyses of European party loyalty focused on political cleavage structures: Lipsett and Rokkan’s (1967) analysis was hugely influential.
  • Similar to the party ID model in that Socio Economic Status variables were highly influential: location, class, and religion/religiosity being particularly important determinants. Again, voting here is largely a function of relatively stable identity-based attributes.
  • Major cleavages differentiating parties and voters were:
  • Center-Periphery
  • Church-State
  • Owner-Worker
  • Land-Industry
frozen party systems
Frozen Party systems?
  • This approach also emphasised stability among voters:
  • Lipset and Rokkan’s ‘Freezing hypothesis’:
  • 'the party systems of the 1960's reflect, with few but significant exceptions, the cleavage structures of the 1920s’.
attitude based partisanship
Attitude-based partisanship
  • Alternative theories of partisanship argue that party-ID is the result of attitude rather than identity.
  • Fiorina’s account of party ID is one of a ‘running tally’ depending on party performance in office in the lifetime of the voter.
  • The Downsian approach sees partisanship as arising from issue congruence.
  • These are evidently less stable sources of voting behaviour than identity-based loyalties.
party id in decline
Party ID in decline?
  • Dalton and Wattenburg
  • Most convincing exponents of the ‘parties in decline’ hypothesis.
  • Argues that the modernization of society has fundamentally weakened ties of voters to parties.
  • Argument applies at micro, meso, and macro levels.
party id in decline1
Party ID in decline?
  • Micro-level arguments:
  • Focuses on: citizens – their experiences, competencies and inclinations.
  • Education – higher levels of education generally.
  • Higher numbers finishing secondary and going on to tertiary education.
  • Also – more political information available from a range of sources.
party id in decline2
Party ID in decline?
  • Micro-level arguments:
  • Increasingly politically ‘self-sufficient’ citizens? More likely to rely on their own political evaluations than on those supplied by political leaders.
  • More likely to participate in non partisan forms of political expression.
  • Less likely to vote out of habit or tradition.
party id in decline3
Party ID in decline?
  • Micro-level arguments:
  • Erosion of group-based politics.
  • Modernisation is associated with higher levels of geographical mobility and social mobility, as well as with a decline in religious adherence.
  • These changes weaken the power of locality-based, class-based and religious cleavages in structuring individual identity and political loyalty.
party id in decline4
Party ID in decline?
  • Micro-level arguments:
  • Value changes – modernization has been associated with changes in political values and the rise of new political concerns.
  • Ingleheart (1990) identified a range of ‘post materialist’ values and issues of political concern.
  • Such concerns include environmental protection, lifestyle choices and consumer protection.
  • Furthermore post materialism encourages direct political participation – often in the form of single issue groups.
  • A more recent line of research, led by HanspeterKriesi has argued that globalization has led to further value changes among citizens – due to the fact that some ‘win’ from globalization (highly educated, internationally mobile, workers in sectors that benefit from globalization) while others ‘lose’ (due to increased competition in previously protected sectors). This has led to a growth in the politics of ‘culture’ and a focus on immigration and integration.
party id in decline5
Party ID in decline?
  • Micro-level arguments:
  • All of these trends lead to a weakening of party attachment among citizens –
  • They are less reliant on party cues and party generated information.
  • Less likely to feel strong group loyalty that can lead to the formation of such attachements
  • Increasingly concerned with new issues that aren’t strongly identified with traditional parties.
party id in decline6
Party ID in decline?
  • Meso-level arguments:
  • Focuses on: social actors, most notably the media.
  • Mediatisation of politics: instead of learning about elections at party-controlled events (e.g. party campaign rallies, canvasses etc.), voters learn about them through coverage in mass media.
  • Media have their own agendas and not all issues are treated as partisan.
  • In response to these changes, parties have become increasingly professionalised, and centralised with less reliance on and role for their ‘grassroots’.
party id in decline7
Party ID in decline?
  • Meso-level arguments:
  • Social actors such as unions and that had been strongly associated with the development and maintenance of partisanship have seen their membership and influence decline.
  • On the other hand, non partisan special interest and single interest groups have become more widespread and influential (this is partly driven by the rise of ‘post materialist’ values discussed).
  • While these actors can interact with parties, they can weaken the link between political engagement and partisanship.
party id in decline8
Party ID in decline?
  • Macro-level changes:
  • Technological changes: invention and development of mass opinion polling meant that political positions and campaigns could be targeted a vote maximization more directly than previously.
  • First emergence of ‘mass media’ and subsequent fragmentation of media, and development of an even more fragmented online space make it hugely difficult for parties to control political information flows.
party id in decline9
Party ID in decline?
  • Macro-level changes:
  • Globalisation/regionalisation: increased economic interdependency due to globalization and the political independence of actors such as bond market investors and Multinational corporations lessens the potential of parties to make bold changes when in power.
evidence of party id in decline
Evidence of party ID in decline?
  • Lower levels of reported party identification in election studies.
  • Dalton reading identifies evidence of declining proportions of ‘strong’ identifiers and ‘identifiers’ across 19 established democracies.
  • Clarke and Stewart reading has similar findings for their analyses of USA, Canada, and Great Britain.
evidence of party id in decline1
Evidence of party ID in decline?
  • However, note that there are significant differences in the question wording used to measure party ID across election studies, hence a ‘perfect’ comparison is difficult.
  • Nonetheless there is strong evidence towards a general decline across a wide range of established democracies.
evidence of party id in decline2
Evidence of party ID in decline?
  • Increasing levels of aggregate electoral volatility:
  • Dalton, McAllister and Wattenberg reading points to a marked increase in levels of electoral volatility over time.
  • (1979) Pedersen index used to calculate this property – the sum of each parties’ individual gains and losses divided by 2.
  • Upcoming elections in Greece and Italy look to contribute further to this pattern, and Ireland recently experienced it’s own ‘earthquake’ election.
  • The occurrence of such elections can be seen as a performance-based decline in party ID – similar elections in 1990s Italy and Japan arose from corruption scandals.
evidence of party id in decline3
Evidence of party ID in decline?
  • Higher numbers reporting ‘late’ decision-making:
  • McAllister notes that % reporting making their vote decision during the campaign has increased:
  • From 28% to 44% between 1948 and 2000 in the USA
  • From 12% to 26% between 1964 and 1946 in the UK.
  • From 27% to 42% between 1988 and 1998 in Australia.
effects of declining party identification
Effects of Declining Party Identification
  • An increasingly fragmented political sphere.
  • With voters less identifying less with the traditional, major parties, smaller and new parties are generally winning more of the vote.
  • This is backed up empirically by Dalton, McAllister and Wattenberg, who describe a year-on-year increase in the ‘effective number’ of parties across 21 established democracies in their study.
effects of declining party identification1
Effects of Declining Party Identification
  • A rise in the popularity of ‘protest parties’ who situate themselves as political ‘outsiders’.
  • Surge in radical right parties in elections across the EU.
  • Even where smaller parties have not penetrated the electoral scene (like in the USA) it is increasingly popular to distance candidates from ‘Washington’ or ‘Beltway’ politics.
effects of declining party identification2
Effects of Declining Party Identification
  • A more ‘available’ electorate.
  • On the one hand, parties and candidates have a greater opportunity to reach out to new sections of the electorate.
  • On the other, their own vote share is more vulnerable.
  • Both factors encourage and reward more intense campaigning (conducted over a longer period of time) and higher levels of campaign expenditure.
effects of declining party identification3
Effects of Declining Party Identification
  • An increasingly ‘professionalised’ campaign.
  • We will look at this concept in more detail in week 5.
  • Broadly it refers to a greater use of hired staff and outside consultants, viewing campaigning as a profession or expertise in its own right.
effects of declining party identification4
Effects of Declining Party Identification
  • Dumbing down or beefing up campaign content?
  • This is an interesting point of contention.
  • On the one hand, a larger available eleroate may be more susceptible to manipulation and marketing tools.
  • If this is the case, we might expect campaigns to become more focused on trivial issues such as leaders’ personalities etc.
effects of declining party identification5
Effects of Declining Party Identification
  • On the other hand, if the decline in party ID is driven by higher levels of education and political intelligence, then perhaps detailed policy debates should play a larger role?
  • This is McAllister’s contention – he argues that late deciders are more likely to be ‘calculating’ (i.e. aware of and influenced by policy stances) than ‘capricious’ (i.e. influenced by subjective fators such as personality evaluations).
effects of declining party identification6
Effects of Declining Party Identification
  • Requirement for greater flexibility and responsiveness of parties generally and particularly during campaigns.
effects of declining party identification7
Effects of Declining Party Identification
  • Speaking to a broader variety of issues?
  • With many undecided voters as well an environment where new/small/outsider parties are performing well, mainstream parties are likely to be confronted with an ever wider variety of issues, to which they will have to have clear and popular responses.
  • Students’ partisan ‘identities’ – any strong party identifiers? If so, why?
  • Party fidelity – how often have you voted? Voted for different parties?
  • When do students make their electoral decisions?
  • What factors do ‘floating’ students weigh most heavily when deciding how to cast their vote. Issues/record/leadership other?