Voter Behavior in Elections without Party Labels Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Lappie, John
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Political Science
  • If there is consensus on anything in Political Science, it is that party matters to voters. Beyond this point there is considerable dispute. Scholars have focused most of their attention on high profile partisan elections, giving rather less attention to non-partisan elections and primaries. I refer to the latter as Elections without Party Labels (EWPLs). This is unfortunate, because EWPLs can be used to gain leverage on questions about the role of party for American voters, questions that are difficult to answer by examining only formally partisan elections. In this dissertation I examine voter behavior in EWPLs. In Chapter One, I argue that party identifiers might have a psychological or social attachment to parties, or they may use it as guide for government performance, ideology, or policy positions. I argue, and find evidence, that different types of partisans behave very differently when they are cross-pressured. This suggests that the common scholarly strategy of advancing a monocausal theory of party identity is flawed. In Chapter Two, I argue that more educated areas should participate more in EWPLs than less educated areas, especially when candidates run blatantly partisan campaigns. However I find the opposite; more educated areas are less likely to participate in EWPLs than less educated areas. Though counter-intuitive, this finding is not unique. In Chapter Three, I argue and find evidence that more educated areas should cast more preference-congruent votes than less educated areas. This suggests that EWPLs are essentially discriminatory against less educated voters.
Date of publication
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Unah, Isaac
  • Clark, Christopher
  • Gray, Virginia
  • MacKuen, Michael
  • Carsey, Thomas M.
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2015
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
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