Party Decay and the New Nominating Politics, 1972-1980
The Presidential elections of 1964 through 1972 were seen widely as electoral accidents not only because they presented unconventional results in the general election (two landslides for different parties sandwiching an election with an important third-party candidate), but also because they involved unconventional and unpredictable nomination campaigns. Neither the nomination of Goldwater nor the nomination of McGovern was commonly expected; both nominations violated what was considered rational behavior by a political party according to spatial theories of the electorate. And certainly neither the challenge to President Johnson in the Democratic primaries of 1968 nor the strength it gathered was expected. But just as realignment between parties yields unexpected election results during the critical period, realignment between or among factions within parties will yield unexpected nominations during the critical period. What was occurring between 1964 and 1972 was not an accident but a critical realignment both within and between parties.