Work in Progress

Beyond Partisanship: Political Identity Profiles in Latin America

Abstract: Research on political identities has been dominated by a focus on partisanship. However, it is widely recognized that parties are only one of many political markers with which citizens can identify. I address this gap in the literature by providing a theoretical and empirical framework to study political identification in a comparative perspective. The political identity profiles (PIP) framework proposes that political identities are not bound to partisanship and that context plays a fundamental role in shaping the salience of different forms of political identification. To test this framework, I introduce a multi-item scale tailored to measure different types of political identities. I then provide evidence for the internal and convergent validity of the measures used by focusing on the Latin American case. Results provide strong evidence in favor of the validity of the framework. I conclude by focusing on some of the normative implications of these findings for the study of political behavior and democracy.

Under review.

Fujimorismo and anti-Fujimorismo in Comparative Perspective

Abstract: Citizens rarely develop partisan identities in party systems that are unstable or have low levels of political trust. Places in which parties continuously change and are deeply distrusted provide few opportunities for citizens to develop strong and stable partisan attachments. Yet, it is not clear if other types of political identities can develop in these contexts. Contrary to the expectations of much of the literature, I claim that strong, consequential political identities can develop in these places. Based on self-categorization and social identity theory, I theorize that the development and prevalence of political identities are deeply influenced by the nature of the party system. In places where parties are fleeting and distrusted, alternative types of political identities, such as charismatic and negative identities can develop, and they can be as consequential as partisan ones. I leverage the case of Peru, an extreme case of party system instability and distrust, to show that non-partisan political identities can develop and be very consequential in places that are not fertile for the development of partisan attachments. Using data from an online survey, and the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems, I show that Fujimorismo and anti-Fujimorismo are strong, prevalent political identities in Peru. Furthermore, I develop a theory of how charismatic and negative can shape patterns of voting behavior. This article suggests that researchers should consider measuring alternative forms of political ties in places where partisanship is weak.

Presented at the Latin American Studies Association 2023 Annual Conference, Vancouver.

Political Identities and Belief Networks in Comparative Perspective

Abstract: Research in developed democracies suggests that partisan identities are central to political belief networks. However, it is unclear the extent to which partisanship structures belief networks in weakly institutionalized democracies, where party systems are newer and less stable. Building on the social identity perspective (SIP), I argue that political identities play a fundamental role in shaping political belief networks, even in these contexts. Using data from Chile and Peru and Mixed Graphical Models (MGNs), I show that alternative political markers, such as ideological groups (e.g., left/center/right) and charismatic movements (e.g., Fujimorismo/anti-Fujimorismo) are at the core of citizens’ belief networks. Findings highlight the importance of political identities even in the absence of widespread partisan attachments.

Presented at the American Political Science Association 2023 Annual Conference, Los Angeles.

Programmatic and Non-Programmatic Party System Structuration in Latin America

with Jonathan Hartlyn and Cecilia Martínez-Gallardo

Abstract: This paper evaluates the extent to which political parties in contemporary Latin America compete by offering voters distinct policy programs, and the degree to which they rely on alternative, non-programmatic appeals. Using data from CHES-LA, a recent expert survey of party positions in the region, we employ confirmatory factor analysis to show that political parties compete for voters using a mix of programmatic and non-programmatic appeals. We demonstrate that populism and particularism, though related, are two different non-programmatic dimensions, and that they interact in systematic ways with the programmatic dimension. While programmatically polarized parties tend to rely on populist appeals, centrist and right-wing parties are more likely to favor particularism. More generally, we provide a comprehensive view of party competition in the region.

Under Review.

Programmatic and Non-Programmatic Bases of Partisan Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Latin America

with Jonathan Hartlyn and Cecilia Martínez-Gallardo

Abstract: This research note explores variation in initial policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic through the lens of party political competition in Latin America. We argue that the way in which political parties and presidents reacted to the COVID-19 pandemic was shaped by both programmatic and non-programmatic aspects of party competition. Findings are consistent with these expectations. The reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic in Latin America was largely a consequence of the ideological stances and the levels of populism of the parties in the region. These findings provide further evidence that programmatic and non-programmatic competition not only coexist, but interact in predictable ways in Latin America’s party systems.

Under Review.

A Global Scale of Economic Left-Right Party Positions: Exploring the Cross-National and Cross-Expert Perceptions of Party Placements

Ryan Bakker,Ruth Dassonneville, Seth Jolly, Jelle Koedam, Patrick Leslie, Jonathan Polk, Jill Sheppard, and Roi Zur

Abstract: We examine the cross-national comparability of expert placements of political parties on the economic left-right dimension using a novel data set that combines data from Europe, Latin America, Australia, Israel, Canada, and the United States. Using anchoring vignettes and Bayesian Aldrich-McKelvey Scaling (BAM), we evaluate whether there is evidence of region, country, or expert-level differential item functioning (DIF), in terms of how experts perceive party placements on an economic left-right dimension. We then explore systematic differences across experts’ perceptual distortion parameters (DIF shift'' andstretch’’ terms) using Bayesian Multilevel Regression Models. The models show that there are no substantively interesting systematic biases in perceptions of party placements for either term at the region, country, or expert level. More generally, our results clearly support the claim that the economic left-right dimension travels well across the globe.

Under Review.

Affect or Ideology?: The Heterogeneous Effects of Political Cues on Policy Support

with Sam Fuller and Jack T. Rametta

Abstract: Is partisan attitudinal bias driven by affect or ideology? In this paper we evaluate the extent to which partisan bias is driven by affect or ideology by theorizing and testing the theoretical underpinnings of each of these potential mechanisms. Following (Lodge & Taber, 2013), we theorize that partisan bias can be an outcome of two different information processing channels: motivated bias and affect transfer. While motivated bias arises from the tendency to accept information that is consistent with the one stored in memory, affect transfer charges information affectively depending on the characteristics of the messenger or the way in which the information is delivered. Using a survey experiment designed to untangle these two mechanisms and methods designed to detect treatment effect heterogeneity and calculate conditional treatment effects (Causal Forest), we find that affect plays a much more important role than ideology in moderating the effect of partisan cues on information processing in the United States.

Under Review.

Partisan Profiles in Democracies and Non-Democracies: Evidence from 101 Countries

with Courtney Blackington

Abstract: Though previous research consistently highlights the role of partisanship in democracies, we know less about partisans in non-democracies. Do levels of democracy shape the formation of partisan identities, and how do these partisan identities impact attitudes towards political institutions in different regimes? We theorize that levels of democracy shape both who identifies as regime or opposition-party partisans and whether partisans trust political institutions. Using cross-national data from 101 countries, we find that as levels of democracy decrease, partisans and their attitudes systematically differ. In less democratic countries, ruling-party partisans are less educated and greater in number than their opposition-party partisan counterparts; however, no similar gaps appear in democracies. Moreover, as levels of democracy fall, trust in political institutions polarizes. In democracies, partisans trust political institutions equally. In non-democracies, opposition-party partisans trust political institutions markedly less than ruling-party partisans. We show that democratic backsliding correlates with the emergence of these patterns in Hungary and Nicaragua.

Presented at the Southern Political Association 2021 Annual Meeting, Virtual.