Winning Proposal to the Converse-Miller Scholar's Fund: 2013 Competition

Project Title: The Evolution of Partisanship and Party Politics in the U. S. Electorate

Faculty Sponsors: John Jackson

Graduate Student: Elizabeth Mann

Project Description

What factors explain changes in individual and aggregate partisanship over time, and what factors explain temporal stability in partisanship at each level? Political parties and partisanship are central factors in all studies of politics at both the collective and the individual levels. The parties’ actions structure the electorate’s choices, influence the electorate’s partisanship, and affect a government’s likely policy directions after an election. In any given election individual partisanship provides a foundation of support for each party and constrains the parties’ options in the electoral competition. The interactions between the individual in the electorate and the party elites are not temporally stable, as evidenced by the dramatic realignment of “red” and “blue” states over the past several decades.1 In the field of party competition and partisanship, we seek to explain both the connections between mass and elite actors and how these connections contribute to the evolution of party systems. We propose to examine empirically models of both individual and aggregate partisanship changes over time.