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Party Identification

The article deals with individual’s party identification and the extent to which this identification is affected by current politics. It opens with a description of early research in the named field, which resulted in intermediate conclusion that party identification is basically formed similarly to other kinds of human socialization, being affected mostly by family and environment and hardly changeable during individual’s future life. People use to identify themselves with groups, and this identification includes party identification.

This effect has been called “partisanship”. Yet the predictive validity of this theory has been contested by some researchers, mostly because of unexplained errors in the seven-point partisanship self-identification table. Although criticized for it’s subjectivism and poor attention to non-political factors (like economic ones), the theory survived till nowadays. To explain the mistakes an “error correction model has been developed”. This helped to increase the predictive validity by consideration of variables such as recent political changes.

Alternatively, it has been proposed to consider regional differences between administrations, including their political and economic history. Since the party identification is interesting mostly for political parties themselves, they came to a question how to change this identification. The answer was, that identification can be influenced indirectly through economic and social factors, rather than through direct political changes. The theory is surely of high interest both to politicians and scholars. Perhaps its weakest point is that it does not consider the power of propaganda, which is a mighty tool in the hands of the parties.

Further correction of the theory with inclusion of propaganda factors (including propaganda through media) would be necessary. (Niemi, 322-327) 18. Generational Changes and Party Identification. Modern researchers have gathered a significant amount of information about changes in party identification in recent forty years, including development through ages and generations. The last four decades provided enough material about how people react on dramatic changes in politics, administration failures and modifications of political system itself.

Investigations have demonstrated, that partisanship and political involvement have generally lessened between those born in the post-New Deal era. Such reduction affected all political parties and has been explained by weakened interfamily ties and changes in lifestyle of the young men, willing to determine their life for themselves, without wasting time on political debate. This theory has been puzzled by notable regional differences in political identification. American South has demonstrated a much smaller reduction of political involvement in contrast to the North. Another variable was the number of individuals with college education.

The first have demonstrated significant shifts in party identification and the latter remained conservative. Consequently Democrats faced shifts in party identification of their voters from generation to generation, while Republicans experienced relative stability in the preferences of their younger and older voters. The article seems to be rather week from explanatory point of view. Firstly, it does not exactly follow its subject, dealing not only with generational, but also with regional differences. This would be justified, in case specifics of the regions would be considered.

Yet the article says nothing about ethnical composition of the population and migration processes, affecting South much more than North, and causing the increase of popularity of the Democrats. The theories explained in the article should either be corrected with consideration of the named factor, or not created at all, because their predictive value is rather low. (Miller, 338-355) 19. Partisan Stability: Evidence From Aggregate Data The article deals with aggregate data about partisanship, being a summary of statistics and overall proportions of Democrats and Republicans.

The theory concentrates on two questions: stability of ration of both Democrats and Republicans and sources of change of this ratio. Most obviously political identification should depend on economic cycles. And indeed, comparison of economic graphs and graphs of popularity of American presidents have demonstrated a correlation. Clinton’s and Bush’s periods of popularity were consistent with the periods of economic growth. It might seem a universal explanation: an economically successful party receives more votes, making it easier to further conduct its policy and have more votes.

Yet the graphs appeared to be correct for presidents only, and they were rather mute for the parties. The explanation, proposed by the author, is that economic changes are most often associated with the administration and not with the party itself. People prefer to blame failed presidents, not the failed parties, because partisanship is a part of socialization, and, despite of economic downfalls, an individual would remain a dedicated democrat or republican, because partisanship is determined mostly by non-economic factors.

New research methods, including short-period research would help to improve the proposed model. The article appears to have a very strong and persuasive argumentation. Indeed, although an individual is able to relate economic changes to success of the current government, he or she would prefer to think of particular people, not of futility of the party course itself, since blaming the party means blaming own self-identification. Therefore, economic cycles can easily affect presidents elections, but not the general balance of the parties. (Green, 356-363) 20.

Macropartisanship: The Permanent Memory of Partisan Evaluation. This article aims to reconcile the idea of traditional partisanship inherited from parents and occasional change of adult partisanship as a result of economic and other related factors. The authors believe that macropartisanship does change, although such changes are long-term and unobvious. They result from massive influences, which are saved in “partisanship memory” and show themselves after years. A number of researches has demonstrated, that the driving force of macropartisanship is a cumulated effect of political and economic shocks.

Each new major political or economic event leaves a trace in partisanship memory, and those traces taken together make a partisanship history for each party. In contrast to micropartisanship, the Index of Consumer Sentiment and presidential approval were much less depended on partisanship history and remained stable for the quarter periods. Economic shocks could not result in more than 10% change, and the data soon returned to its original state. Such empirical observations greatly correlate with partisan stability theory. Indeed, even a combination of political and economic shocks can not quickly modify political preferences.

This requires long-term influence with many shocks, and the required changes are very slight. Only a “critical mass” accumulated through years and in combination with generational change may result in major shifts of political self-identification. At the same time, presidential approval is much more flexible, although tending to self-stabilization. (Erikson, 364-370) Works Cited: 1. Niemi R. G. , Weisberg F. H. (1993) Controversies in Voting Behavior. Congressional Quarterly Books; 3rd edition; 2. Miller E. W. (1993) Generational Changes and Party Identification. In: Niemi R. G. , Weisberg F. H. (Eds. )

Controversies in Voting Behavior. (pp. -338-355) Congressional Quarterly Books; 3rd edition; 3. Green D. P. , Palmquist L. B. , Schickler E. (1993) Partisan Stability: Evidence From Aggregate Data. In: Niemi R. G. , Weisberg F. H. (Eds. ) Controversies in Voting Behavior. (pp. -356-363) Congressional Quarterly Books; 3rd edition; 4. Erikson R. S. , MacKuen M. B. , Stimson J. A. , (1993) Macropartisanship: The Permanent Memory of Partisan Evaluation. In: Niemi R. G. , Weisberg F. H. (Eds. ) Controversies in Voting Behavior. (pp. -364-370) Congressional Quarterly Books; 3rd edition;

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