Essay Preview: Party Id
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Throughout the entire collection of readings for this weeks lecture a constant debate over what really happens in, and leading up to, a citizens decision making in the voting booth. Campbell argues in the American Voter that to accurately account for a single behavior at a specific time, one must account for a multitude of prior factors leading up to the act. He asks the reader to “visualize the chain of events with which we wish to deal as contained in a “funnel of causality”. Under these assumptions one must assume that every event that takes place in the life of a voter has some kind of effect on the voting behavior, one way or another.
Campbell argues that there are “exogenous” and “relevant” conditions that impact voting outcomes. He eludes to the fact that there is most likely some correlation between both of the different factors, and it is because of this, that our predictions will never be prefect. Campbell seems to be hesitant throughout his work to point to any specific circumstances and experiences that may factor into his theoretical framework with more impact that others. It can be understood throughout the readings that the Michigan group was perhaps more concerned with not leaving any consideration out of the funnel; this may be attributed to the fact that the work was some of the first to surface in the field.
For nearly half a century, scholars have debated Campbells view of party identification, and this debate has been a central concept in the study of electoral choice.
If there is one issue of concern that I personally have with the works of Campbell and his associates, it is that party identification is not looked at properly. In Campbells work the concept of party Id is treated as though it is overwhelmingly constant throughout time, and seldom changes without the presence of some sort of extreme circumstance.
According to Campbell, an individuals party identification represents a psychological attachment that is heavily influenced by the transmission of partisan information from parents and other agents of socialization to children who are not yet old enough to vote. Because party loyalties are a type of group identification, Campbell et al. (1960) expect party identification to be as enduring as religious or ethnic loyalties. If citizens learn their party identifications as children and maintain them thereafter, then these attitudes are logically precursors to election-specific issues and candidate evaluations.
In Fiorinas work, an analogy is made between Campbells concept of party ID and religious affiliation. Fiorina states, “These characteristics put one in mind of a religious affiliation. Children learn that they are Catholics of whatever long before they have any understanding or appreciation of church dogma”. Similarly, this would assume that a voter decides his or her party ID prior to any knowledge