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.
MacKuen, Erikson, and Stimson. 1989. Macropartisanship. APSR 83: 1125-1142.
See Green et al (1998) and Erikson et al (1998). This article began the debate.
According to previous literature, partisanship is highly stable except for rare realignments. This is a "punctuated equilibrium" model. This view goes back to The American Voter, which discussed stable, affective bonds to parties.
Fiorina (1981), on the other hand, supposed that partisanship was more like a "running tally" of each party's qualities; this implies that approval ratings should move partisanship. The authors present a theory that resembles Fiorina's.
In fact, aggregate partisanship (e.g. the percent of people telling pollsters that they are Democrats) varies systematically (see Figure 1).
Oddly, they include no discussion of generational change.
Research by the same authors
Research on similar subjects