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Michigan school


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The body of ideas and approaches associated with the Survey Research Center of the University of Michigan, which has been conducting national surveys of the US electorate since 1952. In their landmark study The American Voter (1960), they set out the evidence that voters' decisions on party support were determined much more by their long‐term political socialization, notably by tending to inherit their parents' orientations, than by ideology, issues, or evaluation of the competence of the candidates. The anchoring factor was thus a voter's party identification, which was typically stable even if in a given election the voter might support another party for, say, the Presidency.

Michigan ideas were highly influential in election studies elsewhere, including the United Kingdom. They have been challenged by the rise of rational choice approaches, and by new evidence showing the greater salience of issue voting and retrospective evaluation of the incumbents' performance. Survey analysts, including those at Michigan, are more catholic in their approaches now than then.

Subjects: Politics.


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