By David E. Butler, Donald Stokes
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11 Stability of Partisan Self-Image and Voting Preference Between Three Points in Time in America and Britaina Party Preference in Voting for Congress Partisan Self· Image Stable Variable Stable 76 16 Variable 2 6 78 22 Party Preference in Voting for Parliament Stable Variable 92 75 8 83 8 4 13 17 79 21 100% 100% • The American data are drawn from the University of Michigan panel study of the 1956, 1958 and 1960 elections. The British data are drawn from our 1963-64-66 panel. three-quarters of each of these national electorates held to their established (and consistent) party loyalties and vote preferences over the three points in time, the dominant mode of change in America was for party selfimage to remain fixed while vote preference changed.
There is no reason to expect the mass of people to be particularly introspective about this process. Nonetheless, we did probe the extent of the public's awareness of the relation of its behaviour to the actions taken by government. In 1963 and again in 1969 we put to our sample this series of questions: Over the years how much do you feel the Government pays attention to what the people think when it decides what to do? Why is that? How much do you feel that having political parties makes the Government pay attention to what the people think?
Partisan Self-Images and Electoral Choices 43 accompanied only 35 per cent of changes in presidential vote between the elections of 1956 and 1960, whereas in the British case such shifts accompanied 57 per cent of changes of vote between the elections of 1964 and 1966. This Anglo-American difference in the stability of partisan self-images in the presence of changing vote preferences is sharply evident when we examine a series of elections. 11 compares the stability of selfimage and vote in the American congressional elections of 1956, 1958 and 1960 and British parliamentary preferences in the summer of 1963 and the elections of 1964 and 1966.
Political Change in Britain: The Evolution of Electoral Choice by David E. Butler, Donald Stokes