Dynamics of Aggregate Partisanship (ICPSR 1119)

Published: Dec 3, 1996

Principal Investigator(s):
Janet M. Box-Steffensmeier; Renee M. Smith


Version V1

Despite extensive research into the nature and determinants of party identification, links between individual-level partisan persistence and the degree of permanence in aggregate-level partisanship have largely been ignored. The failure to link the two levels of analysis leaves a gap in our collective understanding of the dynamics of aggregate partisanship. To remedy this, a set of ideal types are identified in this collection that capture the essential arguments made about individual-level party identification. The behavioral assumptions for each ideal type are then combined with existing results on statistical aggregation to deduce the specific temporal pattern that each ideal type implies for aggregate levels of partisanship. Using new diagnostic tests and a highly general time series model, the investigators found that aggregate measures of partisanship from 1953 through 1992 are fractionally integrated. The evidence that the effects of a shock to aggregate partisanship last for years -- not months or decades -- challenges previous work by party systems theorists (e.g., Burnham, 1970) and students of "macropartisanship" (e.g., MacKuen, Erikson, and Stimson, 1989). The arguments and empirical evidence of the degree of persistence in macro-level partisanship provides a conceptually richer and empirically more precise basis for existing theories -- such as those of issue evolution (Carmines and Stimson, 1989) or endogenous preferences (Gerber and Jackson, 1993) -- in which partisanship plays a central role.

Box-Steffensmeier, Janet M., and Smith, Renee M. Dynamics of Aggregate Partisanship. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1996-12-03. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR01119.v1

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1953 -- 1992




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