A causal synthesis of sociological and psychological models of American voting behavior

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A path model of the presidential vote involving social variables, party identification, issue orientations, and candidate evaluations is estimated using samples from the 1964 and 1968 elections. Social effects on voting behavior are channeled almost completely through party identification, which has the largest direct effect on the vote. Indirect effects of party identification through candidate evaluations are considerably larger than through issue orientations. The models for both years reveal similar effects, although issues and candidates were more important determinants of the vote in 1964.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)92-101
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Forces
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1974

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Two broad traditions have shaped the research efforts on mass electoral behavior over the past thirty years. From the mountain of articles, monographs and books reporting on the voting behavior of the American public, two perspectives stand out-the sociological and the psychological. While both seek to explain the same events-political participation or decision-making-theyinvoke different causal mechanisms and place different emphases on the importance of certain variables for understanding outcomes of the electoral system. Elements of the sociological approach to electoral behavior have existed for several decades, but the tradition received its sharpest formative influence in two community surveys carried out by scholars at Columbia. In both The People's Choice (Lazarsfeld et al., 1944) and Voting (Berelson et al., 1954), the authors devoted considerable effort to determining the effects of group membership on a variety of political behaviors, especially the partisan division of the presidential vote. In both volumes the researchers demonstrated deep and persistent political differences in major social cate- * Support for this research was provided in part by the Biomedical Sciences Support Committee and the Office of Research and Advanced Studies of Indiana University. The Inter-University Consortium for Political Research provided the data used herein. None of the above parties bears any responsibility for the uses to which this data was put. Carolyn Mullins provided editorial assistance.

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