Political Behavior

, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 309–337 | Cite as

Encouraging Political Defection: The Role of Personal Discussion Networks in Partisan Desertions to the Opposition Party and Perot Votes in 1992

  • Paul A. Beck


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.

voting discussion networks partisan defection third-party voting 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Beck, Paul Allen (1977). Partisan dealignment in the post-war South. American Political Science Review 71: 477–496.Google Scholar
  2. Beck, Paul Allen (1982). Realignment begins: the Republican surge in Florida. American Politics Quarterly 10: 421–438.Google Scholar
  3. Beck, Paul Allen, Baum, Lawrence, Clausen, Aage R., and Smith, Jr., Charles E. (1992). Patterns and sources of split-ticket voting. American Political Science Review 86: 916–928.Google Scholar
  4. Beck, Paul Allen, Dalton, Russell J., Greene, Steven, and Huckfeldt, Robert (2002). The social calculus of voting: interpersonal, media, and organizational influences on presidential choices. American Political Science Review 96: 57–73.Google Scholar
  5. Berelson, Bernard R., Lazarsfeld, Paul F., and McPhee, William N. (1954). Voting. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  6. Burt, Ronald S. (1986). A note on sociometric order in the general social survey network data. Social Networks 8: 149–174.Google Scholar
  7. Campbell, Angus, Converse, Philip E., Miller, Warren E., and Stokes, Donald E. (1960). The American Voter. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  8. Converse, Philip E., Clausen, Aage R., and Miller, Warren E. (1965). Electoral myth and reality: the 1964 election. American Political Science Review 59: 321–336.Google Scholar
  9. Converse, Philip E. (1966a). The concept of a normal vote. In Angus Campbell, Philip E. Converse, Warren E. Miller, and Donald E. Stokes (eds.), Elections and the Political Order, pp. 9–39. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  10. Converse, Philip E. (1966b). Religion and politics: the 1960 election. In Angus Campbell, Philip E. Converse, Warren E. Miller, and Donald E. Stokes (eds.), Elections and the Political Order, pp. 96–124. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  11. Converse, Philip E., and Dupeux, Georges (1966). DeGaulle and Eisenhower: the public image of the victorious general. In Angus Campbell, Philip E. Converse, Warren E. Miller, and Donald E. Stokes (eds.), Elections and the Political Order, pp. 292–345. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  12. Dalton, Russell J., Beck, Paul A., and Huckfeldt, Robert (1998). Partisan cues and the media: Information flows in the 1992 presidential election. American Political Science Review 92: 111–126.Google Scholar
  13. Downs, Anthony (1957). An Economic Theory of Democracy. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  14. Finifter, Ada W. (1974). The friendship group as a protective environment for political deviants. American Political Science Review 68: 607–625.Google Scholar
  15. Fiorina, Morris P. (1981). Retrospective Voting in American National Elections. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Granovetter, Mark S. (1973). The strength of weak ties. American Journal of Sociology78: 1360–1380.Google Scholar
  17. Huckfeldt, Robert, and Sprague, John (1995). Citizens, Politics, and Social Communication. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Huckfeldt, Robert, Sprague, John, and Levine, Jeffrey (2000). The dynamics of collective deliberation in the 1996 election: campaign effects on accessibility, certainty, and accuracy. American Political Science Review 94: 641–651.Google Scholar
  19. Jacobson, Gary C. (2001). The Politics of Congressional Elections. New York: Harper-Collins.Google Scholar
  20. Keith, Bruce E., Magleby, David B., Nelson, Candice J., Orr, Elizabeth, Westlye, Mark C., and Wolfinger, Raymond E. (1992). The Myth of the Independent Voter. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  21. Key, V.O., Jr. (1966). The Responsible Electorate: Rationality in Presidential Voting, 1936-1960. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Kish, Leslie (1949). A procedure for objective respondent selection within the household. Journal of the American Statistical Association 44: 380–387.Google Scholar
  23. Lacy, Dean, and Monson, J. Quin (2002). The origins and impact of votes for thirdparty candidates: a case study of the 1998 Minnesota gubernatorial election. Political Research Quarterly 55: 409–437.Google Scholar
  24. Laumann, Edward O. (1973). Bonds of Pluralism: The Form and Substance of Urban Social Networks. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  25. Lazarsfeld, Paul F., Berelson, Bernard R., and Gaudet, Hazel (1944). The Peoples' Choice. New York: Duell, Sloan, and Pearce.Google Scholar
  26. Marsden, Peter V. (1987). Core discussion networks of Americans. American Sociological Review 52: 122–131.Google Scholar
  27. Miller, Arthur H., Miller, Warren E., Raine, Alden S., and Brown, Thad A. (1976). A majority party in disarray: policy polarization in the 1972 election. American Political Science Review 70: 753–778.Google Scholar
  28. Miller, Warren E. (1991). Party identification, realignment, and party voting: back to the basics. American Political Science Review 85: 557–568.Google Scholar
  29. Page, Benjamin I., and Jones, Calvin C. (1979). Reciprocal effects of policy preferences, party loyalties and the vote. American Political Science Review 73: 1071–1089.Google Scholar
  30. Rosenstone, Steven J., Behr, Roy L., and Lazarus, Edward H. (1996). Third Parties in America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Stokes, Donald E., and Miller, Warren E. (1966). Party government and the saliency of Congress. In Angus Campbell, Philip E. Converse, Warren E. Miller, and Donald E. Stokes (eds.), Elections and the Political Order, pp. 194–211. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  32. Zaller, John R. (1992). The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul A. Beck
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceThe Ohio State UniversityColumbus

Personalised recommendations