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MacKuen, Erikson, and Stimson: Macropartisanship

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 say who wrote them.

MacKuen, Erikson, and Stimson. 1989. Macropartisanship. APSR 83: 1125-1142.

The Debate

See Green et al (1998) and Erikson et al (1998). This article began the debate.

The Argument

The Received Wisdom

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.

The New Wisdom

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


MacKuen, Michael (author)Erikson, Robert (author)Stimson, James (author)American PoliticsPublic OpinionVotingPartisanship

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