The dynamics of party identification reconsidered

  • Clarke H
  • McCutcheon A
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Abstract

This paper uses mixed Markov latent class models and data from multiwave national panel surveys to investigate the stability of individual-level party identification in three Anglo-American democracies-the United States, Britain, and Canada. Analyses reveal that partisan attachments exhibit substantial dynamism at the latent variable level in the American, British, and Canadian electorates. Large-scale partisan dynamics are not a recent development; rather, they are present in all of the national panel surveys conducted since the 1950s. In all three countries, a generalized “mover-stayer” model outperforms rival models including a partisan stability model and a “black-white” nonattitudes model that specifies random partisan dynamics. The superiority of generalized mover-stayer models of individual-level party identification comports well with American and British studies that document nonstationary, long memory in macropartisanship. The theoretical perspective provided by party identification updating models is consistent with the mix of durable and flexible partisans found in the United States and elsewhere.

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Authors

  • Harold D. Clarke

  • Allan L. McCutcheon

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