Encouraging Political Defection: The Role of Personal Discussion Networks in Partisan Desertions to the Opposition Party and Perot Votes in 1992
- Cite this article as:
- Beck, P.A. Political Behavior (2002) 24: 309. doi:10.1023/A:1022549726887
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Drawing on data from a unique study of the 1992 American presidential election, this article demonstrates that personal discussion networks influence voting behavior, independent of candidate evaluations and partisanship. These social networks encouraged two different kinds of defections from otherwise-expected behavior. People were more likely to vote for Perot if their personal discussants supported him and to convert preferences for him into a Perot vote on election day. Partisans also were more likely to defect to the other major party if their discussion network failed to fully support the candidate of their own party. These results withstood controls for candidate evaluations and partisanship as well as for selective exposure to discussants and selective perception of their preferences. They show the importance of adding social context to personal attitudes, interests, and partisanship in explaining voting behavior.