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Plus ça change…: The New CPS Election Study Panel*

  • Philip E. Converse (a1) and Gregory B. Markus (a1)

Between 1956 and 1960, the first long-term panel study of the American electorate was carried out at the University of Michigan. Among other findings from this original panel were sharp contrasts between the high individual-level stability of party identification and more labile individual preferences on major political issues of the day. Since 1960, several changes in the nature of the American electoral response have caught the attention of scholars, including an erosion of party loyalties on one hand and an increasing crystallization of issue attitudes on the other. Completion of a new panel segment, 1972–76, makes it possible to review the original 1956–60 findings in the light of these intervening changes. We discovered that the contrasts in individual-level continuity of party and issue positions remain nearly identical to those estimated for 1956–60. The theoretical significance of these counter-intuitive results is discussed.

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The research on which this report is based was supported by National Science Foundation Grant SOC-7707537. We are also grateful to Jean Dotson, Maria Sanchez and Peter Joftis for their aid in data preparation.

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American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
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