parallel developments in some post-industrial democracies, but not everywhere (Inglehart and Norris 2000 ; Rusciano 1992 ; Haavio-Mannila 1985 ; Listhaug et al. 1985). More comparative research is needed to map out and explain the reasons for this pattern more fully. In particular, cross-cultural differences point to the need to be aware of a broader range of systemic factors influencing the relationship between social cleavages and party loyalties, including the role of party systems and party competition, electoral systems, political culture, and the agenda and strength of the organized women's movement. A cross-cultural perspective also highlights the need to be aware of “top-down” explanations of gender realignment, based on changes in party/candidate strategies, policies, and images, as well as “bottom-up” explanations based on changes in men's and women's attitudes, values, and policy priorities.
Gender realignment has now become an established part of American elections, taken for granted by commentators, journalists, and politicians. It provides a useful frame or “peg” on which to hang different stories about the election. Nevertheless, we should not be seduced by the conventional wisdom as many assumptions surrounding this phenomenon remain underexplained, and the challenge is to provide fresh ways of understanding the complex relationship between gender, voting behavior, and public opinion.
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