Patrick D. Tucker, Jacob M. Montgomery, and Steven S. Smith. 2019.”Party Identification in the Age of Obama: Evidence on the Sources of Stability and Systematic Change in Party Identification from a Long-Term Panel Survey.“ Political Research Quarterly, 72, 2, Pp. 309-328.
Political scientists have long disagreed about the nature of individual-level change in party identification. While some scholars conclude that party identification is a stable identity—attributing changes in individual responses to measurement error—others show that aggregate party identification responds systematically to short-term forces such as presidential approval. In this article, we use a unique long-term panel measuring party identification twenty times in the 2011–2016 period to support a subtle compromise between these competing claims. We show that individual-level party identification changes systematically over time even after accounting for measurement error and that this change is related to short-term evaluations of the parties and the president. However, although such change exists, it is modest in the medium term and more common among specific subsets of respondents. Finally, we show that these findings are robust to numerous alternative modeling strategies. We believe that our analysis provides the most systematic examination to date of individual-level changes in party identification.