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Political Behaviour/Sociology

F21(b) - New Perspectives in the Study of Political Attitudes and Behavior

Date: Jun 6 | Time: 03:15pm to 04:45pm | Location: SWING 110

Chair/Président/Présidente : Florence Vallée-Dubois (Université de Montréal)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Mackenzie Lockhart (University of California, San Diego)

Don't Forget the Independents: Modeling Macropartisanship in the United States: Spencer Goidel (Texas A&M University), Paul Kellstedt (Texas A&M University), Matthew Lebo (Stony Brook University)
Abstract: Previous analyses of the dynamics of aggregate partisanship in the US -- Macropartisanship -- ignore the fact that partisanship is a multicategory variable that includes Independents. Instead, all previous analyses rely on measures that only include percenta ges of Democrats and Republicans. This is both theoretically unsatisfying and methodologically perilous. We rectify this oversight in this paper, modeling the dynamics in a way that is consistent with the true nature of the data structure.


What Causes the Honeymoon? Prime Ministers and Post-Election Popularity: Feodor Snagovsky (Australian National University)
Abstract: What causes post-election increases in prime ministerial popularity? After an election, the leaders of successful political parties often see an increase in their popularity across the electorate. This ‘honeymoon’ effect has been observed in a variety of advanced democracies, mostly using anecdotal evidence. While many observers take this increase for granted, this phenomenon is at odds with most theories of voter behavior. These theories hold that voter preferences are mostly determined by their personal characteristics (i.e. age, gender, ideology, party ID, etc) or the issues of the day, and are usually fixed in the short-term. What causes voters to change their minds about a political leader, even if they didn’t vote for their party? While this question is difficult to answer using conventional observational approaches, this study uses a regression discontinuity design to evaluate one possible causal mechanism – a desire to be part of an in-group. Using data from several countries and electoral contexts, it finds electing a legislator from the incoming prime minister’s party increases the support voters have for the leader, regardless of their own voting behavior. The results have implications for how we view models of voter decision-making and the causes of the ‘flexible’ support leaders have among their citizens.


The Historical Persistence of Anti-integration Sentiments: Julia Schulte-Cloos (European University Institute)
Abstract: The question of European integration has gained salience within national political discourse across the European member states, fostering public contestation around the issue and fuelling the success of populist right actors who mobilize in favor of European disintegration. While the authority transfer to the European Union substantively increased over the past decades, it remains unclear whether the pace of European integration has really ”left behind” parts of the European citizenry or whether populist right and anti-European challenger actors just successfully use the topic to make one of their core issues salient. This project contributes to our understanding of anti-European sentiments by drawing attention to their historical persistence. Collecting data on all EU accession referenda on a spatially small level and linking them to electoral data on recent anti-European and populist right success, the study shows that initial opposition to joining the EU is a strong predictor of current radical right success. By exploiting the variance of support for accession within member states, it shows that those geographical districts that initially opposed accession to the European Union show significantly higher levels of anti-European challenger support than such districts that were favorable towards joining the European project. The results have implications for our understanding of anti-European sentiments across Europe, suggesting that the substantive opposition towards the EU is not rooted in a genuine failure of the EU institutions, but pre-dates the progressing level of European integration.


Is China a Deviant Case? A Societal-Level Test of the Modernization Theory: Joseph Yingnan Zhou (University of Texas at El Paso)
Abstract: Many scholars believe that China defies the modernization theory, which predicts its democratization in the near future. This belief is largely based on two observations. First, the Chinese middle class shows no distinct democratic orientations (Chen and Lu 2011, Nathan 2015). Second, one’s trust in the communist regime rises as he or she gets financially better off (Wang 2005, Tang 2016). However, these individual-level efforts to reveal China as an outlier risk individual fallacy, which is making macro-level interpretation based on individual-level data. The modernization theory aggregate-level phenomena and needs to be tested at the aggregate level. In my study, I will test the theory against the case of China by looking at how the development level of a province affects the province’s political opinions. Provincial-level political opinions will be constructed Multilevel Regression and Poststratification (MRP) and the construction will draw on three national opinion surveys.