Partisan dealignment has been frequently advanced as a pivotal driver of the personalization of voting behavior. As voters’ long-term attachments with parties eroded, it is argued that partisanship has lost importance to short-term factors, like voters’ evaluations of party leaders. Such theoretical reasoning has been applied recurrently in research dedicated to explaining vote choice. However, we hypothesize that dealignment can downplay partisanship’s impact vis-à-vis leaders in the same way regarding turnout decisions. This article aims at demonstrating the importance of voters’ evaluations of party leaders in their probability to turn out in parliamentary elections through a novel data set pooling 52 national election surveys from 13 Western European parliamentary democracies between 1974 and 2016. The results confirm the increasing relevance of leaders in explaining turnout decisions and a decline of partisanship’s mobilizing ability. These trends are further accentuated among individuals with a television-dominated media diet, demonstrating the role of media change in driving this process.
Recommended citation: Ferreira da Silva, F., Garzia, D., and A. De Angelis (2019). From party to leader mobilization? The personalization of voter turnout. Forthcoming in Party Politics.