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Political Parties: American Politics

-Jessica, Graham, & Maria, 3/18/2013

Maria Van Hoorn

on 11 March 2014

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Transcript of Political Parties: American Politics

Party Strength
Party System
1950's 1960's 1970s 1980's 1990's
"Ups" - Resurgence of party
"Downs" - Party Decline
Larry M. Bartels
Marc J. Heatherington
Two Party System
Historical Party Phases
Parties Change
Realignment Theory
In Summary
- Down/decline: Coleman, 1996; Fiorina 1980; Wattenberg, 1998

- Up/ Resurgence: Bartels, 2000; Green, Palmquist, Schickler, 2002; Heatherington; Schlesigner, 1985; Aldrich, 1995

- Critics: Fiorina, 2002; Snyder, 1992
Coleman on Party Decline
Mayhew's Critique
3 vulnerabilites
Foundational Scholars
Key Concepts for Realingment Theory
Critical realignment: an abrupt party conversion or change among the mass-based electorate. (Burham, 1970; Key, 1955)
Secular realignment: a gradual change in voter coalitions. (Converse, 1966; Key 1959)
Party membership increased Party Strength
& roll call voting increased increased
Resurgence of Parties
Additional Scholars & Theories
Resurgence Argument:
The electorate's party identification can be determined by how they vote.
change in
position (IV)
party id
Critique of Partisanship Among Electorate
Critique 1: changes may increase, even though nothing about the voter changed

Recommendation (Fiorina, 2002): incorporate candidate's positions to produce an accurate (statistical) estimate of how much party ID influences the vote.
Party Identification with Issues
Relationship between:
partisanship and racial issues

partisanship and social/cultural issues

partisanship and religion
(Nie, Verba, Petrocik, 1976; Carmines and Stimson, 1989)
(Adams, 1997; Wolbricht, 2000;
Achen, 2002: socialization of children;
Kaufman, 2002: party id by gender)
(Layman, 2001)
Efforts to measure Party ID must control for these factors
Party Membership
Parties in Government
Party members increase &
roll call voting increases
Counter-Argument (Kreihbiel, 1993)
parties sorted members (got rid of moderates or fringe members of their party
partisanship/ party strength
increased cohesion within party
increased difference among two parties
Rohde's Theory (1991)
2nd Counter-Argument (Snyder, 1992)
legislative agenda changed
Voting patterns changed
partisanship changed
no change
in partisanship
Parties as Organizations
Party organizations are strong because electorate is weak
(Schlesinger, 1985; Aldrich, 1995)
Evidence of party strength only meaures resources, NOT outcomes. (Coleman, 1996)
Ex.) Organizational strength is measured by: rent, amount of office space, people employed, funds raised.
Parties in the Electorate
Realignment according to Sundquist &Burnham
DW Brady and Critical Elections, Realignment
Two Actors
Are Omitted
Problems with the Study of Parties & Partisanship
1) Minority Party
2) Nonvoters
Rohde, 1991
Poole and Rosenthal – (1997, 232) Based on Nominate scores found a increased in partisan voting in Congress
Realignment Theory Critics
Other Critics: Clubb, Flanigan, Zingale, Bartels
Theory does not hold up and is not predictive.
(1) Successful election strategies cater to the electorate or emanate from it. The size of the voter realignment does not indicate importance, innovativeness, consequentiality of elections. Contingency.
(2) Does not predict the victorious party or party shares of the vote. Strategy.
(3) Hinge on government management rather than the parties' favored policy. Valence. (Stokes, 1996)
Concept of Partisanship Defined
A running tally of political assessments

pervasive dynamic forces shaping citizens perceptions of and reactions to the political world
(Bartels, 2002; Green, Plamquist, Schickler, 1960)
source: Gerring, 2002
Partisanship is a central force in the American Political Process
Ask if electorate identifies with 1 of 3 parties. Need to operationalize the concept in other ways.
(Steve Greene, 2002)
Macropartisanship: aggregate of party id
Existing Literature on Macropartisanship
Source: Michael Meffert, Helmut Norpoth, Anirudh Ruhil, 2001
Change in macropartisanship
(1) Moving equilibrium
(Erikson, MacKuen, Stimson, 1998, 1989)
(2) Constant equilibrium
(Green, Palmquist, Schickler, 1998)
(3) Intermediate equilibrium/ fractional integration
(Box-Steffensmeier, Smith, 1998)
(4) Gradual adjustment, but not moving (Meffert et. al, 2001)
Meffert's Argument: Macropartisanship has moved considerably in the American electorate
Method: time-series data
Measures party id. analyzes1980 presidential election claiming that limited partisan realignment took place
(Meffert et al., 2001; Miller & Shanks, 1996; Miller, 1991)

Realingment Theory
A major reorientation of long-term party attachments
Dealignment: attachments to major parties diminish
(Converse, 1976; Nie, Verba, Petrocik, 1976; Norpoth & Rusk, 1982)
source: Meffert et. al, 2001

How does the reorientation occur?
Perspective 1: through conversion of partisanship in the electorate
(Erikson & Tedin, 1981;
Sundquist, 1973)
Perspective 2: Generational change or mobilization
(Anderson, 1979; Beck, 1974;
Campbell et al., 1960;
Norpoth, 1987)
Alters internal composition of party
coalitions in electorate, strengthening
and weakening some voices .
(Petrocik, 1981; Stanley and Niemei, 1995)
Dynamics of Macropartisanship
& Partisan Realingment
Macropartisanship: aggregate of party id
Key question: How often does a major partisan realignment change?
Source: Michael Meffert, Helmut Norpoth, Anirudh Ruhil, 2001
(Lubell, 1952)
Source: Fiorina, 2002
V.O. Key (1955):
Critical Elections: "those in which voters are... unusually deeply concerned, in which the extent of electoral involvement is relatively quite high, and in which the results of the voting reveal a sharp alteration of the pre-existing cleavage within the electorate."
-"truly differentiating characteristic": "the realignment made manifest in the voting in such elections seems to persist for several succeeding elections."
E. E. Schattschneider (1956, 1960):
- McKinley-Bryan 1896: "'one of the decisive elections in American history,' which brought on a party coalitional alignment 'powerful enough to determine the nature of American politics for more than thirty years."
- FDR-Hoover 1932: "revolution of 1932": "the greatest reversal of public policy in American history."
realignment periods as eras rather than single elections
realignment "reaches its climax in one or more critical elections"
three periods: 1850s, 1890s, 1930s
(Sundquist 1973)
realignment as a 'balancing' force on an "underdeveloped political system"
realignments as cyclical: they have a "periodic rhythm", a "cycle of oscillation"
the "underproduction" of American institutions and realignment "flash points"
(Burnham 1970)
The idea of “decline of parties” is outdated and exaggerated.
post-alignment/post critical election periods are ideal for majority-led policy change
Congresses of the Civil War, 1890's, and New Deal were "responsible, in part, for outpourings of new comprehensive public policies"
national character of realignment
(Brady 1988)
(1992 and 2000)
(Wilson and Dilulio; 1995, 180) there is not party ID among voters like there once was
(Greenberg and Page, 1997, 269) parties-no longer the link between the electorate's daily concerns and their political choices.
(Burnham, 1989, 24) “massive decay of partisan electoral linkages” and “ruins of the traditional partisan regime”
(Wattenberg, 1996, ix) “For over four decades the American public has been drifting away from the two major political parties” & "weak hold of the two major political parties,” p. 168
Wattenberg is one of the main proponents of continued decline in partisanship. He also says that they follow their party less and less in how to vote.
increase in party loyalty “especially among those who actually turn out to vote” (35)
And partisanship has a stronger influence on voting behavior
In 70s – number of independents and split-ticket voting increased.
The increase of independents and decrease of party ID in the 60s and 70s is the “single most important piece of evidence in support of the thesis of partisan decline.” (in Bartels referring to Niemi and Weisberg, 1976)
Bartels referred to this as the “nadir of party identification in the American Public” (36)
Mayhew (1974, 313) – voters not liking party cues started to use incumbency to inform their vote
Partisan Decline
Elite level affects the Mass level
Coleman (1996) shows temporal relationship between “strength of partisanship in government and the strength of partisanship in the electorate” p. 44
Miller, 1991 and Miller and Shanks, 1996; find a high correlation between party ID and voter choice – being just as important in the 1980s as was in 1950s
(Bartels points out that a discrepancy in Miller’s study is that it only looks at party identifiers – but not in “weak identifiers” or independent leaners - and Miller only uses “root” party id question in the NES.)
“The collapse of the old southern Democratic party has produced, for the first time in nearly 60 years, two sharply distinct political parties.”
Carmines and Stimson, 1989 – public opinion taking cues from elite behavior, clarifying of "important differences" - also Heatherington, 625
*candidate-centered - third party - "neutrality thesis" 1984
Konda and Sigelman (1987) have a prob with Wattenberg’s findings yet still find a decline in engagement up to 1984 supporting the “neutrality thesis”
Heatherington argues against the use of “likes-dislikes” measure saying it obscures differences and lacks the neutral point.
Likes-dislikes measures can be the result of unwitting balance of likes and dislikes to neutral.
Feeling thermometers
(Craig 1985) are better
as they provide a valid
and clear neutral point.
Early Republic: Federalists and Jeffersonian Republicans
"the difficulty in forming coherent and durable majorities over core principles"
Mass Politics: Jackson and Van Buren
developed political parties, hardened partisanship, organized mass politics
Candidate Centered
electorate increasingly looks to the candidate rather than party
post-ww2 macroeconomic management changed the fiscal responsibilities of Congress
(Coleman 1996)
parties adopt increasingly similar fiscal stances
electorate looks to candidates for "differences" in parties
source: Meffert, Norpoth, Ruhil, 2001
Some saying that people have a negative attitude toward parties (Nie, Verba, and Petrocik, 1979)
Some hold that the decline cannot be changed due to anti-party electoral changes of 60s and 70s(Aldrich, 1995, 245-53; Beck 1997, 385.)
Hetherington believes that resurgence has been very significant. And “elite polarization has clarified public perceptions of the parties’ ideological differences, which has led to a resurgence of parties in the electorate.”
American Voter discusses cognitive limitation but also elite-level cuesPointing out that even someone who tracks well with several political philosophies can have difficulty in evaluating current politics in times that partisan debate slackens. – 1960, p256
V.O. Key “echo chamber analogy further suggests that elite behavior will set the terms by which the masses think about politics” (1966)
If politicians give party-oriented cues – mass follows suit; if issue-centered cues – mass follows suit
Brody, 1991; Carmines and Stimson 1989 and Zaller, 1992 all give strong support for elite cues being a key explanatory variable for “individual opinion change”
Note: Rhode, 1991 says mass to elite is more the direction.
In fact, Fleisher and Bond (2000)point out several scholars argue for the rise in polarization in Congress (Aldrich 1995; Fleisher and Bond 1996a, 1996b; Rohde 1991; Sinclair 1995) - roll call votes significantly used as evidence.
Schattschneider 1975 – discusses how parties have an important role in “organizing political conflict”
Voting theories work best when people perceive that the parties represent distinct ideoloties, which allows voters to make rational calculations about alternative futures. (Downs 1957; Hinich and Munger 1994)
(1960, 121) The American Voter A. Campbell, P.E. Converse, W.E.Miller, D.E. Stokesdiscusses how party ID is central to elections – affecting the attitudes and behaviors of voters aligned with them.
“Duverger’s law: that the plurality rule for selecting the winner of elections favors the two-party system.”or
“the simple-majority single-ballot system favors the two-party system.” – Duverger called this close to a true sociological law.” (Duverger 1963, 217) Duverger did not develop this – he was the first to claim it as a law
He also says :the simple-majority system with second ballot and proportional representation favors multi-partyism” (more of an hypothesis)
Three political systems that “are the only ones used widely enough to admit the observation of their relationship with the number of political parties:

1-Plurality –voting:
2-Run-off majority among three or more candidates with two ballots
3-Proportiaonal representation:
Thomas Hare, 1859 (proportional representation) and John Stuart Mill, 1861 (not only two great parites but every minority should be represented) – He thought this proportional representation would not upset the two great parties
Droop Quota in 1969 on plurality voting
Duverger - "plurality rule" destroys third parties:
1. mechanical effect - under-representing losing parties, 2. "psychological factor"

Downs(1957) coining "sophisticated" voting
Shively (1970) said this has a very small effect on outcomes of elections
William Riker – 1982 – on the Two-Party system and Duverger’s Law

Uses this to show poly sci does have history and an accumulation of knowledge
Katz, 1980 –political parties serve to organize elections

Ashworth and Ashworth (1901)– “the present method of election has developed the party system”
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