Arkansas Politics & Government: Do the People Rule?

By Diane D. Blair | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIVE
Voters and Political Parties

Modern democracy is unthinkable save in terms of parties.

E. E. Schattschneider, Party Government, 1942

The party platform in Arkansas has been as completely irrelevant to meaningful politics as any such document could conceivably be.

Patrick F. O'Connor, "Political Party Organization in Pulaski County, Arkansas," 1967

An extraordinary characteristic of both party organizations in Arkansasis their sharp separation from the party in office.

Arthur English and John J. Carroll, "Political Activists in a Southern County," 1984

Political scientists have suggested that three major mechanisms help to explain declining Democratic voting in the South: migration, generational turnover, and individual conversion. Clearly, all three of these factors have been at work in Arkansas.1

The important Republicanizing effects of in-migration have already been noted, its influence enhanced because of its concentration in those very Ozark areas where a Republican base already existed and voting turnout is traditionally high. Confirmation of the in-migration influence is offered by 1984 election returns: whereas the state generally gained 18.9 percent population between 1970 and 1980, Republican victories and Reagan's greatest margins came in counties with an average growth rate of 32.9

-88-

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