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“Party Identification and Social Relationship: Exploring the Causal Mechanisms” by Ikuma Ogura

April 28, 2021 @ 9:00 am 10:00 am JST

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Author: Ikuma Ogura (Georgetown)

Abstract: The literature on American mass party identification has found that US citizens prefer co-partisans in building social relationships. According to the American National Election Study (ANES) conducted in 2016, nearly 80% of the respondents answered that they voted for the co-partisan candidates at the presidential election that year. Previous studies have also pointed out that Americans prefer co-partisans even for non-political social relationships, such as marriage and friendship. However, it is not clear why we see such patterns. Is this because people consider that co-partisans tend to have similar socioeconomic backgrounds? Or, is it because they think co-partisans hold similar policy positions? To answer this research question, this paper conducts original survey experiments with American voters. In the experiments, respondents are first asked to read a vignette of a hypothetical individual describing his/her partisanship, group traits, and issue attitudes. Respondents are then asked whether they want to build various social relationships with the hypothetical individual. By suitably designing the experiments for identifying causal mechanisms (Acharya, Blackwell, and Sen 2018), this paper aims to decompose the mechanisms lying behind partisanship and social relationships empirically. This paper will contribute to the literature by offering insights into the long-standing debate over the meaning of mass party identification.

Discussants: Matthew Blackwell (Harvard), Andrew Engelhardt (University of North Carolina, Greensboro), Alexander Theodoridis (UMass), and Yphtach Lelkes (University of Pennsylvania).

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