We have surrendered too much of our economic liberty. The freedom of the
market is not merely the best guarantor of our prosperity, it is the chief guarantor of our rights. A government that seizes control of the economy for the
good of the people ends up seizing control of the people for the good of the
economy. When [our opponents, the Democrats] gather to themselves the
authority to take the earnings and direct the activities of the people, they are
fighting not for our sake, but for the power to tell us what to do. Are they
taking care of you, or are they taking care of themselves? ( Bob Dole 1996 acceptance speech at Republican convention)
The party differences have become unmistakable. The issue is whether
the electorate sees these differences, and, if so, how voters react to them.
It should be noted that the concern here is not with party organizations.
There is an extensive body of research that has developed that focuses on whether
parties as organizations have declined or reemerged as significant actors with diverse resources valuable to candidates. Although that concern is clearly important to tell us about one aspect of parties, it is not clear what the connection is between a decline or rise in organized activity and party positions and electoral
reactions. For a review of this literature and a valuable commentary on the issue
of the political consequences of change, see Coleman 1994.
Works such as Sears et al. ( 1980), for example, focus on the role of selfinterest versus "symbolic" politics, such as party identification and self-defined
ideology. Are demographic traits in a particular election related to supporting
specific policy positions, and are those relationships greater than those for party
identification and ideological self-placement? Although such studies are valuable,
the presumption here is that, if social conditions, party responses, and electoral
response are associated, the concern should be with how demographic traits are
associated with identification with and support for parties over time.
For all of the following analyses, all median family income figures for House
districts are adjusted for inflation and expressed in 1990 dollar values. The Consumer Price Index for various years since 1960 was first found. The CPI index was
then divided by the value for 1990, making 1990 the base of 1.00. This results in
index values for prior years median that are less than 1.00. The median family income for districts for prior years was then divided by this new index. Since the
index is less than 1.0, it converts nominal dollar amounts for earlier years to real
dollar values, with values expressed in 1990 dollar values. Thus for all the following tables, the distributions are of district values expressed in real, 1990, values. This is significant because from the 1960s to the 1990s many districts did experience real increases in median family incomes, although many did not.
Overall, the diversity of median family incomes among all districts decreased
from 1960 though 1980 and then increased again to a level greater than in 1960.
The top third and bottom third classification is done for all respondents.
Since regions may have fewer or more respondents in a category than the national
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Class and Party in American Politics.
Contributors: Jeffrey M. Stonecash - Author.
Publisher: Westview Press.
Place of publication: Boulder, CO.
Publication year: 2000.
Page number: 84.
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