party identification

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The answer a respondent gives to a question of the form ‘Generally, do you see yourself as a Republican, a Democrat, an Independent, or what?’ and its equivalent in other countries. In the 1950s the Michigan school of survey research argued that party identification questions tapped a stable underlying orientation which might be disturbed by current affairs without being permanently upset: thus Democrats who voted for the Republican President Eisenhower in 1952 were likely to return to Democratic voting in other times and other elections. Researchers in the UK have complained that the question is perceived as no different to the question ‘If there were a General Election tomorrow, for whom would you vote?’, and that the Michigan approach underrated the rationality of electors' choices. However, the two approaches are reconciled in current survey research, which accords a role both for party identification and for rational choice.

Subjects: Politics.

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