Slip, sliding away or le plus ça change ... Canadian and American partisanship in comparative perspective

Laura B. Stephenson, Thomas J. Scotto, Allan Kornberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


We begin by analyzing the proportions of Canadians and Americans who, over a sixteen-year period, accept a party label. We then compare the distribution of party identifications before and after four of the five Canadian national elections and before and after the 1984 American Presidential election, the only one for which such data are available. We next focus on the relationship between partisan identifications reported by Americans and Canadians before a national election and their reported vote in surveys taken shortly after those elections. The volatility of partisanship in each country is considered, along with the issue of partisan migration. That is, where do people go when they discard their identifications? Is it to another party or simply to non- identification? Our next concern is with the congruence between reported partisan identifications and the direction of the vote. In particular, does the intensity with which identifications are held have a significant impact on voter loyalty? Does intensity of identification also affect whether partisans in each country take positions on a left-right ideological continuum congruent with where their respective parties are assumed to be located? In the last section of the paper, we discuss our findings in light of the most recent changes to the national party system in Canada arguing that the differences in the distributions of self-reported left-right ideological positions and the voting loyalties for both Tory and Reform/Alliance partisans are significant for understanding the challenges the Conservative Party of Canada, an amalgam of these two parties, faces in its quest to become a viable alternative to the dominant Liberals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-312
Number of pages30
JournalAmerican Review of Canadian Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • comparative study
  • election
  • migration


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