Party Identity and Voting Behavior


Table of Contents


Most nations in the world are democratic in nature where leaders are chosen through an election process, and one with majority votes usually takes the day. In majority cases, the elections have always consisted of two main political parties which are running against each other to form the next government. Some scenarios have also seen some people run as an independent political outfit.

Voting behavior is a form of political behavior that explains how and why voters made up their minds during the voting process. Party identification is an attitude where people pledge loyalty to one of the two major political parties or in some cases a third party might be present in some countries.

Voting behavior and party identification directly affect each other, and their result is the influence that they have on the outcome results of the election. Party identity has a lot more impact on the behavior of voters at any level of the election than as compared to the impact of voting behavior on the party identity. 

Voting behavior of public decision makers has been a central concern for political scientists. Many factors have been identified to influence the voting behavior; party affiliation as stated above, the type of election either general election or a referendum, the demographic factors such as the age, gender, race and geographical location of voters, orientation to specific issues of public policy, general evaluations of the government performance and evaluation of the personal characteristics of the candidate (Almond, and Verba,2015).

In any democratic system of government factors mentioned above can either be permanent or temporary to the behavior of voters. When voting in a referendum the behavior is slightly different as to when voting in a general election. In a referendum, the factor influencing the voting and its outcome results are the orientation to specific issues of public policy. A good example is the 2016 Brexit Referendum where Britain voted to decide whether to stay in the European Union or to leave. At the end of the voting process, those who wanted to leave the Union carried the day by 51.9% majority vote.

The British citizens had different orientations and understanding towards the country being part of the union. Some part of the population believed that exiting from the union would enable the country to have its control over its resources and would save the country some significant amount of revenue that used to go to the union treasury as stated in the policy of the union. Some of the population including top government officials such as the prime minister opposed the move since they believed that exiting the union could have heavy economic costs and major risks that may accompany the exit. This difference in orientation to the union policy influenced the behavior of voters and the final outcomes of the election (Hobolt, and Tilley 2014).

Also, the voter’s behavior was influenced by their evaluation of the senior government officials who supported or opposed the exit from the union. Some of the people supported the move to exit not because they cared about the impacts of the staying in or exiting the union, but it is because they hold different opinions with the prime minister and other senior government officials and this attitude had an impact on the outcome of the referendum (Johnston, 2014).

Personal orientation to government performance also the voting behavior of the people. Some people who feel that the government has performed well in terms of development will come out in large numbers to support the government and also those who think that the government has done enough will turn out in large numbers to vote out the government and vote in a new government that they believe that will correct the mistakes done by the current government. Some people do not have an idea about the level of government performance, and as a result, their behavior to vote is different to the other people where in most cases they will not vote. These three groups of people’s behaviors usually affect the final results of an election process.

Demographic factors such as age, gender, religion, race and geography location influences the behavior of voters. Certain ages and genders are active when it comes to political matters. The youth have been seen to come out to vote due to the mobilization through social media in most countries. Also, the women have recently been actively involved in politics as they fight to have representatives in the parliament to fight for their rights that have been for long been neglected by the male representatives in the houses. Such factors affect the voting behavior and impact the final results of an election (Finn, and Glaser, 2010).

The location of voters, their religion, and race and education levels influence the voting behavior. Urban settlers would support change ideology while the rural settlers prefer conservative ideology. Certain races and religions who believe that the government policies are against their existence and practice will not vote for such a government. A good example is the immigration campaign policies by American presidential candidate Donald Trump which was against the African and Islamic immigrants in the United States of America. This had a great impact on the voter’s behavior and the final results of the elections (Finn, and Glaser, 2010).

Party affiliation of the people influences the people’s behavior during voting. In the United States of America, there are two major parties that dominate during every election. Some states are known to be affiliated with one party while other states are seen as mixed states with both Democrat and Republican supporters. People would usually vote for the party and not necessarily the person running for the top seat in the government because people are always loyal to the party that is dominant in their region. Such political arrangement influences people’s behavior and election outcome during elections. These bring us now to the party identification and its effects on the election outcome.

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Party identification is the political party that individuals identify themselves with. In the United States of America, there are two major political parties that the majority of the people identify themselves with, and a few people are independent party affiliates. The democrats and the republicans are the dominant parties. These two major parties affect the election outcomes in every state in the country. 

Several factors have been identified to affect the party identification in the United States and mostly are the roles of the party. The Republican, for instance, was a liberal party, and the liberal minded people all over America identified themselves with this party. The Democrat was once a conservative party, and the social conservatives all over America were Democrat affiliates. With time things changed and the roles of these parties interchanged. With the changing economic and industrialization in America, there is a need to be liberal minded that’s why many people identify themselves with the Democrats. The liberal minded people in America chose to elect Obama as the first black American president to represent the Democrats in the presidential election in 2008. This was due to changes that have taken place over time in America and these influenced the election outcome that year.

The party identification varies among many Americans; some are strong or weak Democrats and strong and weak Republicans. This scale of party identification is used as a predictor of the election outcome. Some states in America have strong supporters of either party, and some states have weak supporters of either party and as a result, each presidential candidate needs to carry out strong campaigns in such states. 

As with voting behavior, the party identification takes into account the performance of and the policies of the government as well as the values and beliefs of the individual aspirant. For example, many Americans believed that the Obama administration which was a democrat government had a direct intervention on the murder of the Libyan leader, Qaddafi through the then secretary for foreign affairs Hilary Clinton. This revelation had a lot of impact on the campaigns and the election outcome for Clinton’s presidency in 2016.

Gender also has been a factor in party identification, and mostly the ladies are the group focus. The areas concerning abortion, equal pay and military action which has been largely addressed by the Democrats has seen most of the women supporting the Democrats. Religious groups such as Catholic which are against the issue of abortion and use of birth control pills have found been to associate themselves with the Republicans. These factors have been playing a part in influencing the election outcome.

The education and economy also affects the party identification of many Americans. Most of the highly educated people have high-paying jobs consequently having a better economic status. This group of individuals is Democrats in nature. The middle-class white-collar workers are strong Republican supporters while the blue-collar are strong Democrats. The people living in towns and cities are Democrats as opposed to the rural dwellers who are Republicans always. The key contributing factor to this classification is the level of education that people have been exposed to. Election outcomes are determined by the interaction of these different aspects of the society. Some people will vote for the party of their parents making age to be a determine of party alignment.

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The election process is an interaction of voting behavior and the party alignment in most democratic countries which are influenced by factors that range from personal factors, social factors, educational factors and economic factors. The interaction of these factors has a great impact on the election outcomes. 

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