This volume is an analysis of the American party system, an account of the structure, processes and significance of the political party, designed to show as clearly as possible within compact limits what the function of the political party is in the community. My purpose is to make this, as far as possible, an objective study of the organization and behavior of our political parties. It is hoped that this volume may serve as an introduction to students and others who wish to find a concise account of the party system; and also that it may serve to stimulate more intensive study of the important features and processes of the party. From time to time in the course of this discussion significant fields of inquiry have been indicated where it is believed that research would bear rich fruit. In the light of broader statistical information than we now have and with the aid of a thorough-going social and political psychology than we now have, it will be possible in the future to make much more exhaustive and conclusive studies of political parties than we are able to do at present. The objective, detailed study of political behavior will unquestionably enlarge our knowledge of the system of social and political control under which we now operate. But such inquiries will call for funds and personnel not now available to me.
This volume is based upon some twenty-five years of observation and study of the party system in the United States. The writer has also enjoyed some special facili