Realignment and Party Revival: Understanding American Electoral Politics at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century

By Arthur Paulson | Go to book overview

6
Ideological Homogenization and Party Revival

The period of 1964-1972 is widely recognized as one of critical change in American parties and elections, but it is widely understood as a time of dealignment and party decay rather than as a time of realignment and party revival. As outlined in Chapter 5, the decade or so thereafter provided mounting evidence of the decline of political parties.

Although my argument has been that the electoral change of 1964- 1972 should be understood as one of realignment and party revival, the evidence of party decay in that period cannot be discounted. Indeed, it is central to the point of the realignment/ party revival thesis. The parties in decay after 1964-1972 are the political parties born in the nineteenth century. Their decline was a necessary first step in the development of new party institutions that followed. Viewed in that context, party decay and party revival are not mutually exclusive, and dealignment is realignment by other means.

Party change since 1964-1972 is based on two concurrent and related processes: the ideological polarization between the parties, and party reform. To review, ideological polarization was the result of the grow

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