Zachary Greene, Matthias Haber
The consequences of appearing divided: An analysis of party evaluations and vote choice

Electoral Studies, 2015: 37, pp. 15-27
ISSN: 0261-3794

Recent advances to the theory of issue ownership suggest that voters change their impressions of parties' competencies in response to parties' experiences in government. We add that parties' evaluations depend on their success in fostering a cohesive image by managing diverse intra-party interests. We predict that voters' impressions of parties' internal discord negatively affect their assessments of parties' policy competencies. Furthermore, voters' choice of parties will also depend on perceptions of the parties' coherence and competence. Using individual-level analysis of party evaluations in Germany, we test predictions from our theory using a new survey that contains questions on parties' policy coherence and issue competence. The results hold important implications for the study of intra-party politics, issue competition and vote choice.