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Presidents and Parties in the Public Mind$
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Gary C. Jacobson

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226589206

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226589480.001.0001

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Party Identification II: Generational Imprinting

Party Identification II: Generational Imprinting

(p.144) Seven Party Identification II: Generational Imprinting
Presidents and Parties in the Public Mind

Gary C. Jacobson

University of Chicago Press

This chapter looks at presidential effects on mass partisanship over the long term, assessing the direction and durability of each postwar president’s influence on party fortunes through a process of generational imprinting. Systematic variations across generations in aggregate partisanship reflect the successes or failures of the administrations during which successive age cohorts entered the electorate. Combined data from several hundred Gallup surveys are used to compose a snapshot of the political generations active political during the Obama administration that reveals the impact of past presidential “shocks” and bears implications for the future distribution of political identities and attitudes. The data document the emergence of a decisive Democratic advantage among cohorts entering the electorate during the three most recent presidencies, attributable to both demographic and ideological differences between younger and older citizens. This will benefit the Democratic Party for decades into the future—especially if the image of the Republican Party projected by Trump prevails. Yet Obama and later Trump also provoked a movement away from a Democratic identity among lower educated and older whites, offsetting the some of the effects of demographic change and at least temporarily stabilizing the aggregate distribution of partisans.

Keywords:   presidents, generational imprinting, party identification, partisan attitudes, demographic change

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