The end of materialism = the end of the traditional party?

Date of Completion

January 1998


History, United States|Political Science, General




Little is known about the relationship between the decline of Materialism and the decline of party identification in the United States. Whereas the phenomenon was analyzed in many Western European nations and it was shown that post-materialism has affected the parties overseas research in the United States is very limited. The question of this work is if the end of materialism will also bring an end to the traditional parties. After careful analysis the clear answer is no. Although post-materialism clearly affects party identification, it does not affect the strength of party identification. The two phenomena, the decrease in materialism and the decrease in party identification cannot be seen as directly related. Another underlying question of this work was how to improve models to predict party identification, the strength of party identification, and split ticket voting. An analysis of 20 years of American voting behavior in presidential elections shows that combining traditional variables, such as income or age with newer ideas such as post-materialism results in the best models. Four different models (two traditional models using demographics, one model using media usage variables, one model using post-materialism) were tested and generally the traditional models worked better than the new models. Another observation was, however, that the explanatory value of these models was decreasing over time. The best model was a fifth model combining the most effective variables from models one through four which shows that traditional variables are still valuable tools but it is important to also look at new ways to analyze party identification and voting behavior. ^