Disclaimer. Don't rely on these old notes in lieu of reading the literature, but they can jog your memory. As a grad student long ago, my peers and I collaborated to write and exchange summaries of political science research. I posted them to a wiki-style website. "Wikisum" is now dead but archived here. I cannot vouch for these notes' accuracy, nor can I even say who wrote them. If you have more recent summaries to add to this collection, send them my way I guess. Sorry for the ads; they cover the costs of keeping this online.
Fiorina. 1981. Retrospective Voting in American Elections. New Haven: Yale University Press.
In my view, his main point concerns the conceptualization of party ID. The social psychological school saw party ID as a simple, thoughtless attachment and challenged rational choice theorists to explain this attachment. Until Fiorina, they could not. Rational choice scholars could do no more than explain something _similar_ to party ID--for example, a "standing decision" of people to vote for the party that typically serves them best. Fiorina takes the social psychologists head on, and provides a rational choice theory that explains not only why party ID is so stable, but also why it changes. This is an advance from Downs, whose theory implies little or no independent role for partisanship. For Fiorina, Party ID is instrumental, therefore PARTIALLY ENDOGENOUS.
Key said that citizens are primarily concerned with real policy outcomes (purely retrospective). Downs said that citizens use the past only to evalute what a party will do in the future; retrospective voting is merely a cost-cutting variant of prospective voting. Now Fiorina says that retrospective voting is based on expectations about future welfare guided by evaluations of past policy end-states.
Retrospective voting (as opposed to prospective voting) is important. It is based in reward-punishment theory.
If we were dropped into a new democracy with two parties, we might employ "simple issue voting"--that is, we might look at each party's issue platforms. But after some experience having one of the parties in government for four years, we might add to this calculus our estimation of how well the party in power has performed. We might further add an estimate of how well the other party would have performed if it had been in power, weighted according to our uncertainty about this estimate. Then, we can use all this to predict which party is more likely to serve our interests best in the future. Over time, these evaluations are reflected in our party identification, which is a "running tally" of how each party is treating me. Thus, my evaluations of the governing party's recent performance should elicit a change (one way or the other) in my overall evaluation of that party.
The model tested in this book focuses on changes in temporal party identification. He does not directly link party identification with vote choice. The model is based on a running tally of retrospective evaluations of party performances and promises. It looks at an individual's past experiences with political parties plus secondary factors such as parent's affiliation. His model allows party ID to change continuously.
Uses two sets of panel studies:
Research by the same authors
Research on similar subjects