Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. John Clark

Second Advisor

Dr. J. Kevin Corder

Third Advisor

Dr. Susan Hoffmann

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Using "The Youth-Parent Socialization Panel Study" that covers 1965-1982, the role of individual presidential candidates in bringing about changes in mass partisanship and party realignment is studied. Previous research has ignored the role of popular, prestigious, charismatic presidential candidates shaping and changing citizens' partisanship. Historical political party realignments guide my research in showing the strong influence of the chief executive in realignment periods.

Following the work of Niemi and Jennings (1991) I expand on their issue model explaining partisan choice by creating a candidate-issues model to provide a more complete explanation of party identification. I specifically look at the presidential candidates of 1972 (Nixon and McGovern) and the candidates of 1980 (Reagan and Carter). Candidate thermometers provide an opportunity to expand on the previous explanations for realignment causes and processes.