Policy or Partisanship in the United Kingdom? Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Brexit

30 Pages Posted: 16 May 2019 Last revised: 12 Sep 2019

See all articles by Bryan Schonfeld

Bryan Schonfeld

Princeton University, Department of Politics

Sam Winter-Levy

Princeton University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: March 28, 2019

Abstract

Are voters motivated by policy preferences or partisan identities? In this paper, we argue that the British Conservative Party's sudden change in Brexit policy (following the surprising result of the 2016 referendum on EU membership) offers a unique opportunity to study partisanship in the context of a natural experiment. Using an interrupted time series design, we find evidence that voters primarily care about policy: Europhilic Conservatives disaffiliated from the party, while Euroskeptics became more likely to identify with the Conservatives. These findings suggest that voters are sufficiently policy-motivated to change parties if they disagree with them on important issues. But we find that partisan identities do play a causal role in the development of voter preferences in other domains: once Euroskeptic voters joined the Conservatives because of the party's stance on European integration, they subsequently adopted more right-wing policy views on redistribution.

Suggested Citation

Schonfeld, Bryan and Winter-Levy, Sam, Policy or Partisanship in the United Kingdom? Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Brexit (March 28, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3373348 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3373348

Bryan Schonfeld (Contact Author)

Princeton University, Department of Politics ( email )

Princeton, NJ
United States
9737386241 (Phone)

Sam Winter-Levy

Princeton University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Corwin Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544-1013
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
151
Abstract Views
3,276
rank
196,181
PlumX Metrics