Arjan H. Schakel: Is All Politics Local or National? Voting in municipal and county elections in Norway
Recent election survey research has revealed significant levels of party switching between national and sub-national elections. Typically, between a quarter to one third of the voters indicate that they vote for a different party in subnational elections than their nationally preferred party (Berg and Oscarsson 2020; Elklit and Kjær 2009). A methodological challenge is to study inter-level vote switching --i.e. between non-simultaneous national and subnational elections-- is that one does not know whether vote switching arises because a voter first changes her subnational party preference and then her national vote preference or the other way around. An obvious hindrance of asking respondents for which party they voted for in a previously held national election is that respondents often do not remember for which party they voted for.
I argue that vote switching between national and subnational elections can be meaningfully explored when motivations for casting a subnational vote can be linked to the subnational or national level. The empirics rely on a set of survey questions fielded in the Norwegian Citizen Panel in October 2019, a couple of weeks after elections were held for county councils and municipal councils on 17 September 2019. This survey is unique in that it included questions on prospective and retrospective vote motivations in relation to the municipal, county, and national levels. Furthermore, respondents were asked to indicate how important different issues were for their party choice in municipal and county elections. This set of survey questions enables me to explore what motivations underly voters to switch party choice across local, regional, and national elections and whether these motivations originate from the subnational or national level.