Follow the Party or Follow the Leader? Candidate Evaluations, Party Evaluations, and Macropolitical Context
The Michigan model of voting contends that candidate images may influence individual voting behavior. Yet scholarly research has produced mixed results regarding the relative strength of party-based versus candidate-based voting. The present chapter seeks to contribute to the ongoing debate about the personalization of politics as well as the modern role of political parties for electoral behavior in a cross-national setting. Using a methodologically innovative two-step approach to analyzing multilevel data, the chapter looks at how individuals' feelings of representation by political parties and leaders affect their vote choices. The first step involves a regression analysis of 189 vote choice models across thirty-three nations in thirty-five elections. The subsequent step combines the estimates from the first step with party- and system-specific measure for the assessment of contextual effects on the strength of party-based and candidate-based voting. Overall, the results of the analysis confirm that both party and candidate images are important for individual vote choices. Furthermore, the relative strength of party-based and candidate-based voting is in part determined by the macropolitical context.
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