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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Partisan Mobilization, Cognitive Mobilization and the Changing American Electorate


The concept of party identification has been central to our understanding of American electoral behavior. This research builds upon the functional logic of party identification and asks what occurs if citizens become better able to manage the complexities of politics without relying on habitual party cues. Using the data from the American National Election Studies, we track the distribution of party mobilization and cognitive mobilization within the American electorate. Then, we demonstrates the importance of these different mobilization patterns by documenting strong differences in the content of political thinking, voting choice, and electoral change. The results suggest a basic transformation in the characteristics of the American public since our the classic images of The American Voter, leading to a more differentiated and dealigned electorate.

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