The Power of Partisanship in Brazil: Evidence from Survey Experiments


  • Supplemental results, data, and R code for replication of results are available on the AJPS Dataverse ( Previous versions of this article were presented at the Inter-American Development Bank in 2011, at the 2011 APSA Meeting in Seattle, and at Oxford University in 2012. Thanks to Taylor Boas, Chris Federico, Paul Goren, Kathy Hochstetler, Rick Lau, Howard Lavine, Joanne Miller, and to the anonymous reviewers and editors at AJPS for comments and suggestions. Thanks to Ted Brader for sharing ideas and experiences with partisan cueing experiments. The online surveys were approved by the IRBs of the University of Minnesota (#1110S05602) and Rutgers University (#E12-231). Thanks to Andy Sell in the University of Minnesota's College of Liberal Arts Office of Information Technology for helping implement and manage the online survey.


To what extent do party labels influence individuals’ policy positions? Much research has examined this question in the United States, where party identification can generate both in-group and out-group pressures to conform to a party's position. However, relatively little research has considered the question's comparative generalizability. We explore the impact of party labels on attitudes in Brazil, a relatively new democracy with a fragmented party system. In such an environment, do parties function as in-groups, out-groups, or neither? We answer this question through two survey experiments, one conducted on a nationally representative sample and another on a convenience sample recruited via Facebook. We find that both in- and out-group cues shape the opinions of identifiers of Brazil's two main parties but that cues have no effect on nonpartisans. Results suggest that party identification can structure attitudes and behavior even in “party-averse” electoral environments.