The Causes and Consequences of Registering with a Political Party




Thornburg, Matthew P.

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In 31 states, individuals have the option of affiliating with a party when they register to vote. I explore the decision to register with a political party and its effects on an individual's attitudes and behaviors. I find that the decision to register with a party is influenced by a combination of expressive and instrumental motives and is dependent on the electoral laws in place in a state and local political conditions. Once voters initially register with a party, the costs to changing that registration act as a barrier, keeping individuals registered with the same party over time. Party registration is also shown to affect the party an individual chooses to identify with. Taken together, these facts potentially lead to individuals being anchored to a political party identification when they might otherwise choose to identify with a different party.



Political Science, Psychology, Electoral institutions, Electoral realignments, Party affiliation, Party identification, Party registration, Political behavior