Journal of Undergraduate Research


partisan election, ballot, vote behavior


Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Political Science


Researchers agree that partisanship is the main predictor of how any given individual will vote, but previous researchers have been unable to determine to what exact quantifiable extent party labels determine individuals’ voting choices. This is because previous research has been purely observational in nature, meaning that any inferences about how party labels affect voting behavior could have been impacted by any number of confounding variables. We isolated the independent effect of party labels on determining voters’ choices by conducting a novel survey to measure partisans’ vote choices for two hypothetical presidential candidates in simulations of both nonpartisan and partisan elections. By taking an experimental approach to isolate the effect of party labels on partisans’ vote choices, we eliminated the confounding variables that have plagued previous observational studies. We found that even when faced with the same two hypothetical candidates, individuals chose the candidate from their party at a much higher rate in the hypothetical partisan election than in the hypothetical nonpartisan election. This helps us understand that party-line voting remains rampant in our society, and partisans may rely even more heavily on party labels than on qualifications or issue positions when deciding how to vote.