Parties in the Voter’s Mind

  • David Butler
  • Donald Stokes


The role played by the parties in giving shape and direction to the behavior of voters is so taken for granted that its importance is easily missed. Without it, however, the mass of the people could scarcely participate in regular transfers of power. The individual elector accepts the parties as leading actors on the political stage and sees in partisan terms the meaning of the choices which the universal franchise puts before him. British government would be fundamentally changed if parties were absent from the voter’s mind.


Party System Local Election Party Identification Party Preference Party Support 
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  1. 2.
    G. A. Almond and S. Verba, The Civic Culture, Princeton, 1963. The question “Have you ever done anything to try to influence an act of Parliament?” elicited these replies: “often” (0.8 per cent); “once or twice” or “a few times” (5 per cent), “never” (92 per cent); and “don’t know” (2 per cent).Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    The proportion of the American public that can reliably say which party is in control of the Congress has at times been less than half. See D. E. Stokes and W. E. Miller, “Party Government and the Saliency of Congress,” Public Opinion Quarterly, 26 (1962), 531–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 7.
    Exceedingly suggestive studies of factors of this kind are H. J. Eysenck, The Psychology of Politics, London, 1954.Google Scholar
  4. R. E. Lane, Political Ideology, New York, 1962Google Scholar
  5. A. F. Davies, Private Politics, Melbourne, 1955Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    For an interesting alternative theoretical argument, see W. H. Riker and P. C. Ordeshook, “A Theory of the Calculus of Voting,” American Political Science Review, 62 (1968), 25–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 9.
    H. Valen and D. Katz, Political Parties in Norway, Olso, 1964, p. 187Google Scholar

Copyright information

© David Butler and Donald Stokes 1971

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Butler
    • 1
  • Donald Stokes
    • 2
  1. 1.Nuffield CollegeOxfordUK
  2. 2.Center for Political StudiesUniversity of MichiganUSA

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