The Democratic Party as a Multifactional System, 1896-1964
The Democratic Party, the oldest political party in the world, has been throughout its history a multifactional system. Its urban-rural and north-south divides, taken alone, would oversimplify the reality. Southern Democrats, disproportionately conservative, pro-slavery before the Civil War and pro-white supremacy after Reconstruction, were often found in rural alliance with western populists at the turn of the twentieth century. Northern Democrats were divided between the party regulars of the urban machines, supported by a largely working-class electoral base, and reform factions with a more middle-class electoral base. Though a liberal-versus-conservative framework for analyzing Democratic Party politics, then, would also be an oversimplification, conservative Democrats had decidedly more power within their party early in the twentieth century than they do now.
The purpose of this chapter is to examine the Democratic Party as a multifactional system prior to the electoral realignment of 1964-1972. The ideological alignment of states originally presented in Chapter 1 is used to illustrate the shift in power at Democratic National Conven-