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Title:Information and identities in dynamic electoral environments
Author(s):Waeiss, Charla S.
Director of Research:Gaines, Brian J.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Gaines, Brian J.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Canache, Damarys; Kuklinski, James; Livny, Avital
Department / Program:Political Science
Discipline:Political Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):partisanship, heuristics, social identities, elections
Abstract:Electoral environments in democracies are complex. One of the key tools voters use to simplify the information environment in elections is the party-label heuristic. However, party labels themselves change and with considerable frequency. Therefore, this dissertation investigates the consequences of party-label changes for voters’ information, partisan identities, and corresponding behavior. As a result, this dissertation makes a series of contributions to our understanding of voter decision-making and partisanship. First, I create an original dataset of party-name changes across 43 democracies from 1990-2017, allowing scholars to quantify instances of party relabeling. Second, using these data paired with electoral surveys, I demonstrate that party relabeling limits the information voters have about the party, alters their voting considerations, and is associated with decreased levels of partisanship to such parties. Third, using a case study in Germany, I demonstrate that changes as innocuous and a party relabeling itself alters how that party’s followers see themselves, other parties, and even limits their willingness to engage with political actors. Fourth, I use the same case in Germany to highlight that parties can opt for new names that include informative signals, thereby improving voters’ knowledge about them. Finally, I contend that voters may come to rely on different heuristics when party labels are no longer reliable information shortcuts, pointing to party leaders as an alternative heuristic. In doing so, I develop two new measures to capture how voters view the "typicality" of party leaders vis-a-vis the party and the level of attachment voters express toward leaders over the party, expanding our extant understanding of partisanship and personalization.
Issue Date:2019-04-10
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Charla Waeiss
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-08-23
Date Deposited:2019-05

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