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Party Affiliation, Partisanship And Political Beliefs: A Field Experiment

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Executive Summary

Political partisanship is strongly correlated with attitudes and behavior, but it is unclear from this pattern whether partisan identity has a causal effect on political behavior and attitudes. The authors report the results of a field experiment designed to investigate the causal effect of party identification. Prior to the February 2008 Connecticut presidential primary, researchers sent a mailing to a random sample of unaffiliated registered voters informing them of the need to register in order to participate in the upcoming primary. Comparing post-treatment survey responses to subjects' baseline survey responses, they find that those informed of the need to register with a party were more likely to affiliate with a party and subsequently showed stronger partisanship.

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