Political Behavior

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 331–356 | Cite as

Party Polarization and Mass Partisanship: A Comparative Perspective

Original Paper

Abstract

Scholars view polarization with trepidation. But polarization may clarify voters’ choices and generate stronger party attachments. The link between party polarization and mass partisanship remains unclear. I look to theories of partisanship to derive implications about the relationships among polarization, citizens’ perceptions of polarization, and mass partisanship. I test those implications using cross-national and longitudinal survey data. My results confirm that polarization correlates with individual partisanship across space and time. Citizens in polarized systems also perceive their parties to be more polarized. And perceiving party polarization makes people more likely to be partisan. That relationship appears to be causal: using a long-term panel survey from the United States, I find that citizens become more partisan as they perceive polarization increasing.

Keywords

Party polarization Mass partisanship CSES ANES Panel survey 

Supplementary material

11109_2014_9279_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (130 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 130 KB)

References

  1. Abramowitz, A. I., & Saunders, K. L. (2008). Is polarization a myth? Journal of Politics, 70(2), 542–555.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Achen, C. H. (1992). Social psychology, demographic variables, and linear regression: Breaking the iron triangle in voting research. Political Behavior, 14(3), 195–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Adams, J. F., Merrill, S, I. I. I., & Grofman, B. (2005). A unified theory of party competition: A cross-national analysis integrating spatial and behavioral factors. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Adams, J., & Somer-Topcu, Z. (2009). Policy adjustment by parties in response to rival parties’ policy shifts: Spatial theory and the dynamics of party competition in twenty-five post-war democracies. British Journal of Political Science, 39(4), 825–846.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Adams, J., Ezrow, L., & Somer-Topcu, Z. (2011). Is anybody listening? evidence that voters do not respond to European parties’ policy statements during elections. American Journal of Political Science, 55(2), 370–382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Albright, J. J. (2009). Does political knowledge erode party attachments? a review of the cognitive mobilization thesis. Electoral Studies, 28(2), 248–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Alesina, A., Devleeschauwer, A., Easterly, W., Kurlat, S., & Wacziarg, R. (2003). Fractionalization. Journal of Economic Growth, 8(2), 155–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Alvarez, R. M., & Nagler, J. (2004). Party system compactness: Measurement and consequences. Political Analysis, 12(1), 46–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Andrews, J. T., & Money, J. (2009). The spatial structure of party competition: Party dispersion within a finite policy space. British Journal of Political Science, 39(4), 805–824.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. APSA. (1950). Toward a more responsible two-party system: A report of the committee on political parties. American Political Science Review, 44(3, Part 2), 1–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Barnes, S. H., Jennings, M. K., Inglehart, R., & Farah, B. (1988). Party identification and party closeness in comparative perspective. Political Behavior, 10(3), 215–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bartels, L. M. (2000). Partisanship and voting behavior, 1952–1996. American Journal of Political Science, 44(1), 35–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bartels, L. M. (2006). Three virtues of panel data for the analysis of campaign effects. In H. E. Brady & R. Johnston (Eds.), Capturing campaign effects (pp. 134–163). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  14. Baumer, D. C., & Gold, H. J. (1995). Party images and the American electorate. American Politics Research, 23(1), 33–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Berglund, F., Holmberg, S., Schmitt, H., & Thomassen, J. (2006). Party identification and party choice. In J. Thomassen (Ed.), The European voter: A comparative study of modern democracies (pp. 106–124). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Brader, T., Tucker, J. A. & Bargsted, M. A. (2013a). Of time and partisan stability revisited. Unpublished manuscript, New York University.Google Scholar
  17. Brader, T., Tucker, J. A., & Duell, D. (2013b). Which parties can lead opinion? experimental evidence on partisan cue-taking in multiparty democracies. Comparative Political Studies, 46(11), 1485–1517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Brewer, M. D. (2005). The rise of partisanship and the expansion of partisan conflict within the american electorate. Political Research Quarterly, 58(2), 219–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Brown, D. S., Touchton, M., & Whitford, A. (2011). Political polarization as a constraint on corruption: A cross-national comparison. World Development, 39(9), 1516–1529.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Budge, I., Klingemann, H. D., Volkens, A., Bara, J., & Tanabaum, E. (2001). Mapping policy preferences: Estimates for parties, electors, and governments, 1945–1998. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Campbell, A., Converse, P. E., Miller, W. E., & Stokes, D. E. (1960). The American voter. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  22. Carmines, E. R., & Stimson, J. A. (1989). Issue evolution: Race and the transformation of American politics. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Converse, P. E. (1969). Of time and partisan stability. Comparative political studies, 2(2), 139–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Cox, G. W. (1990). Centripetal and centrifugal incentives in electoral systems. American Journal of Political Science, 34(4), 903–935.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Curini, L., & Hino, A. (2012). Missing links in party-system polarization: How institutions and voters matter. Journal of Politics, 74(2), 460–473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Dalton, R. J. (1984). Cognitive mobilization and partisan dealignment in advanced industrial democracies. Journal of Politics, 46(1), 264–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Dalton, R. J., & Weldon, S. A. (2007). Partisanship and party system institutionalization. Party Politics, 13(2), 179–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Dalton, R. J. (2008). The quantity and the quality of party systems: Party system polarization, its measurement, and its consequences. Comparative Political Studies, 41(7), 899–920.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Delli Carpini, M. X., & Keeter, S. (1996). What Americans know about politics and why it matters. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Dow, J. K. (2001). A comparative spatial analysis of majoritarian and proportional elections. Electoral Studies, 20(1), 109–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Drummond, A. J. (2010). Assimilation, contrast and voter projections of parties in leftright space: Does the electoral system matter? Party Politics, 17(6), 711–743.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. van der Eijk, C., Schmitt, H., & Binder, T. (2005). Left-right orientations and party choice. In J. Thomassen (Ed.), The European voter: A comparative study of modern democracies (pp. 167–191). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Ezrow, L. (2007). The variance matters: How party systems represent the preferences of voters. Journal of Politics, 69(1), 182–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Ezrow, L., De Vries, C., Steenbergen, M., & Edwards, E. (2011). Mean voter representation and partisan constituency representation: Do parties respond to the mean voter position or to their supporters? Party Politics, 17(3), 275–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Finkel, S. E. (1995). Causal analysis with panel data. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Fiorina, M. P. (1981). Retrospective voting in American national elections. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Fiorina, M. P., & Abrams, S. J. (2008). Political polarization in the american public. Annual Review of Political Science, 11, 563–588.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Fortunato, D., & Stevenson, R. T. (2013). Perceptions of partisan ideologies: The effect of coalition participation. American Journal of Political Science, 57(2), 459–477.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Franklin, C. H., & Jackson, J. E. (1983). The dynamics of party identification. American Political Science Review, 77(4), 957–973.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Frye, T. (2002). The perils of polarization: Economic performance in the postcommunist world. World Politics, 54(3), 308–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Granberg, D., & Holmberg, S. (1988). The political system matters: Social psychology and voting behavior in Sweden and the United States. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Granberg, D., & Brown, T. A. (1992). The perception of ideological distance. Western Political Quarterly, 45(3), 727–750.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Green, D. P., Palmquist, B., & Schickler, E. (2005). Partisan hearts and minds: Political parties and the social identities of voters. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Harbridge, L., & Malhotra, N. (2011). Electoral incentives and partisan conflict in congress: Evidence from survey experiments. American Journal of Political Science, 55(3), 494–510.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Haupt, A. B. (2010). Parties’ responses to economic globalization: What is left for the left and right for the right? Party Politics, 16(1), 5–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Hetherington, M. J. (2001). Resurgent mass partisanship: The role of elite polarization. American Political Science Review, 95(3), 619–631.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Hetherington, M. J. (2009). Putting polarization in perspective. British Journal of Political Science, 39(2), 413–448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Hibbing, J. R., & Theiss-Morse, E. (2002). Stealth democracy: Americans’ beliefs about how government should work. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Highton, B. (2009). Revisiting the relationship between educational attainment and political sophistication. Journal of Politics, 71(4), 1564–1576.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Highton, B., & Kam, C. D. (2011). The long-term dynamics of partisanship and issue orientations. Journal of Politics, 73(1), 202–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Hogg, M. A., Abrams, D., Otten, S., & Hinkle, S. (2004). The social identity perspective: Intergroup relations, self-conception, and small groups. Small Group Research, 35(3), 246–276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Holmberg, S. (1994). Party identification compared across the atlantic. In M. K. Jennings & T. E. Mann (Eds.), Elections at home and abroad: Essays in honor of Warren E. Miller (pp. 93–122). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  53. Hooghe, L., Bakker, R., Brigevich, A., de Vries, C., Edwards, E., Marks, G., et al. (2010). Reliability and validity of the 2002 and 2006 chapel hill expert surveys on party positioning. European Journal of Political Research, 42(4), 684–703.Google Scholar
  54. Huber, J. D., & Inglehart, R. (1995). Expert interpretations of party space and party locations in 42 societies. Party Politics, 1(1), 73–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Huber, J. D., Kernell, G., & Leoni, E. L. (2005). Institutional context, cognitive resources and party attachments across democracies. Political Analysis, 13(4), 365–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Imai, K., Keele, L., & Tingley, D. (2010). A general approach to causal mediation analysis. Psychological Methods, 15(4), 309–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Jackson, J. E. (1975). Issues, party choices, and presidential votes. American Journal of Political Science, 19(2), 161–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Jennings, M. K., & Markus, G. B. (1984). Partisan orientations over the long haul: Results from the three-wave political socialization panel study. American Political Science Review, 78(4), 1000–1018.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Jennings, M. K., Stoker, L., & Bowers, J. (2009). Politics across generations: Family transmission reexamined. Journal of Politics, 71(3), 782–799.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Johnston, R. (2006). Party identification: Unmoved mover or sum of preferences? Annual Review of Political Science, 9, 329–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Katz, R. S., & Mair, P. (1995). Changing models of party organization and party democracy: The emergence of the cartel party. Party Politics, 1(1), 5–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Keith, B. E., Magleby, D. B., Nelson, C. J., Orr, E., Westlye, M. C., & Wolfinger, R. E. (1992). The myth of the independent voter. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  63. Kollman, K., Miller, J. H., & Page, S. E. (1992). Adaptive parties in spatial elections. American Political Science Review, 86(4), 929–937.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Laakso, M., & Taagepera, R. (1979). Effective number of parties: A measure with application to West Europe. Comparative Political Studies, 12(1), 3–27.Google Scholar
  65. Lachat, R. (2008). The impact of party polarization on ideological voting. Electoral Studies, 27(4), 687–698.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Layman, G. C., & Carsey, T. M. (2002). Party polarization and party structuring of policy attitudes: A comparison of three NES panel studies. Political Behavior, 24(3), 199–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Layman, G. C., Carsey, T. M., & Horowitz, J. M. (2006). Party polarization in American politics: Characteristics, causes, and consequences. Annual Review of Political Science, 9, 83–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Levendusky, M. S. (2009). The partisan sort: How liberals became democrats and conservatives became republicans. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Lindqvist, E., & Östling, R. (2010). Political polarization and the size of government. American Political Science Review, 104(3), 543–565.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Lipset, S. M., & Rokkan, S. (1967). Party systems and voter alignments: Cross-national perspectives. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  71. Lupu, N. (2011). Party brands in crisis: Partisanship, brand dilution, and the breakdown of political parties in Latin America. PhD thesis, Princeton University.Google Scholar
  72. Lupu, N. (2013). Party brands and partisanship: Theory with evidence from a survey experiment in argentina. American Journal of Political Science, 57(1), 49–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Lupu, N., & Riedl, R. B. (2013). Political parties and uncertainty in developing democracies. Comparative Political Studies, 46(11), 1339–1365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Mainwaring, S., & Scully, T. R. (1995). Introduction: Party systems in Latin America. In S. Mainwaring & T. R. Scully (Eds.), Building democratic institutions: Party systems in Latin America (pp. 1–34). Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  75. Marks, G. N. (1993). Intra- and extra-familial political socialization: The Australian case and changes over time, 1967–1990. Electoral Studies, 12(2), 128–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. McCarty, N., Poole, K. T., & Rosenthal, H. (2006). Polarized America: The dance of ideology and unequal riches. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  77. Merrill, S., Grofman, B., & Adams, J. (2001). Assimilation and contrast effects in voter projections of party locations: Evidence from Norway, France, and the USA. European Journal of Political Research, 40(2), 199–221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Miller, W. E. (1976). The cross-national use of party identification as a stimulus to political inquiry. In I. Budge, I. Crewe, & D. Farlie (Eds.), Party identification and beyond: Representations of voting and party competition (pp. 21–31). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  79. Miller, W. E. (1991). Party identification, realignment, and party voting: Back to basics. American Political Science Review, 85(2), 557–568.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Miller, W. E., & Shanks, J. M. (1996). The new American voter. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  81. Page, B. I., & Jones, C. C. (1979). Reciprocal effects of policy preferences, party loyalties and the vote. American Political Science Review, 73(4), 1071–1089.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Petrocik, J. R. (2009). Measuring party support: Leaners are not independents. Electoral Studies, 28(4), 562–572.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Powell, B. G, Jr. (2000). Elections as instruments of democracy: Majoritarian and proportional visions. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  84. Ramirez, M. D. (2009). The dynamics of partisan conflict on congressional approval. American Journal of Political Science, 53(3), 681–694.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Richardson, B. M. (1991). European party loyalties revisited. American Political Science Review, 85(3), 751–775.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Roberts, K. M., & Wibbels, E. (1999). Party systems and electoral volatility in Latin America: A test of economic, institutional, and structural explanations. American Political Science Review, 93(3), 575–590.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Rose, R., & Mishler, W. (1998). Negative and positive party identification in postcommunist countries. Electoral Studies, 17(2), 217–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Sani, G., & Sartori, G. (1983). Polarization, fragmentation and competition in western democracies. In H. Daalder & P. Mair (Eds.), Western European party systems: Continuity and change (pp. 307–340). Beverly Hills: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  89. Sartori, G. (1976). Parties and party systems: A framework for analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  90. Schmitt, H., & Holmberg, S. (1995). Political parties in decline? In H. D. Klingemann & D. Fuchs (Eds.), Citizens and the state (pp. 95–133). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  91. Schmitt, H. (2009). Partisanship in nine western democracies: causes and consequences. In J. Bartle & P. Bellucci (Eds.), Political parties and partisanship: Social identity and individual attitudes (pp. 75–87). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  92. Shively, W. P. (1979). The development of party identification among adults: Exploration of a functional model. American Political Science Review, 73(4), 1039–1054.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Sigelman, L., & Yough, S. N. (1978). Left-right polarization in national party systems: A cross-national analysis. Comparative Political Studies, 11(3), 355–379.Google Scholar
  94. Steenbergen, M. R., & Jones, B. S. (2002). Modeling multilevel data structures. American Journal of Political Science, 46(1), 218–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Stokes, S. C. (2001). Mandates and democracy: Neoliberalism by surprise in Latin America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  96. Taagepera, R. (1997). Effective number of parties for incomplete data. Electoral Studies, 16(2), 145–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  97. Taylor, M., & Herman, V. M. (1971). Party systems and government stability. American Political Science Review, 65(1), 28–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  98. Turner, J. C. (1999). Some current issues in research on social identity and selfcategorization theories. In N. Ellemers, R. Spears, & B. Doosje (Eds.), Social identity: Context, commitment, content (pp. 6–34). Malden: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  99. Ura, J. D., & Ellis, C. R. (2012). Partisan moods: Polarization and the dynamics of mass party preferences. Journal of Politics, 74(1), 277–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  100. Valenzuela, A. (1978). The breakdown of democratic regimes: Chile. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  101. Wattenberg, M. P. (1990). The decline of American political parties, 1952–1988. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  102. Zaller, J. (1992). The nature and origins of mass opinion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  103. Zuckerman, A. S., Dasovic, J., & Fitzgerald, J. (2007). Partisan families: The social logic of bounded partisanship in Germany and Britain. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

Personalised recommendations