(APSA) (Co-authored with T. Colton) Abstract: Under what conditions do individuals withdraw support from dominant parties in nondemocratic regimes? Employing an original panel survey, we measure the same individuals’ support for Russia's dominant party first at the peak of its dominance in 2008 and again shortly after it suffered a cascading defection of regime supporters in 2011–12. This allows us uniquely to explore the microfoundations of theories of regime defection cascades, generally supporting the argument that they involve complex “informational” as well as “reputational” processes. Accordingly, we find that early and eager movers in such a cascade tend to come from less socially vulnerable segments of the population, to have greater need to rely on other people for interpreting events, to believe the regime has lower levels of popular support, and to come from more heterogeneous communities. We find little role for mass media (including social media) or democratizing zeal in driving Russia's regime defection cascade.
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This article is from the May issue of APSR. In this issue, also see: Jordan Gans-Morse, "Demand for Law and the Security of Property Rights: The Case of Post-Soviet Russia."