The Political World of a Small Town: A Mirror Image of American Politics

By Everett Carll Ladd Jr.; Nelson Wikstrom | Go to book overview

of the issues surrounding it lessen. Presidential elections that feature national and international issues have favored Republican candidates. A quarter to a half of the Senate elections, where national issues often play major roles and which generally have candidates well known to the electorate . . . are won by Republicans. In southern House elections, an often unknown Republican is typically challenging a Democratic incumbent. . . . House contests that include a melange of national and local issues are gradually, but increasingly, being won by Republicans. The GOP has done least well in state legislative contests, where local issues and local ties dominate and the influence of presidential coattails has been muted. 65

As in the case of West Point, the South, and throughout the United States, African-Americans have emerged as the most fervent supporters of the Democratic party. Each of the four West Point respondents of African-American heritage identified with the Democratic party. Further, although a majority of white voters in Virginia favored Republican candidates for governor in 1981, 1985, and 1989, the overwhelming support provided by African- American voters for Democratic candidates ensured their election. 66 African- Americans have become the most reliable source of electoral support for Democratic presidential candidates. 67

In conclusion, an examination of recent electoral trends in West Point not only provides us with some valuable insight into the political culture of the community but also underscores several important developments concerning the political party system in America. West Point's electoral behavior provides empirical evidence pertaining to the growth of Republicanism, especially in the South, and for the concepts of party dealignment and realignment, which have become the center of considerable debate among scholars of the American political party system.


NOTES
1.
Walter A. Rosenbaum, Political Culture ( New York: Praeger, 1975), p. 4.
2.
Gabriel A. Almond and Sidney Verba, Civic Culture ( Boston: Little, Brown, 1965), p. 12.
3.
Herbert McClosky and John Zaller, The American Ethos: Public Attitudes Toward Capitalism and Democracy ( Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1984), p. 17.
4.
Arthur J. Vidich and Joseph Bensman, Small Town in Mass Society: Class, Power, and Religion in a Rural Community, revised edition ( Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1968), p. 33.
5.
Ibid., p. 39.
6.
For material centering on the weakness of American political parties, see William J. Keefe, Parties, Politics, and Public Policy in America, 5th edition ( Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Press, 1988). A more positive perspective on the future of American political parties is advanced by Xandra Kayden and Eddie Mahe Jr. , The Party Goes On ( New York: Basic Books, 1985).
7.
Vidich and Bensman, Small Town in Mass Society, p. 117.

-56-

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The Political World of a Small Town: A Mirror Image of American Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Political Science ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Foreword xiii
  • Preface xv
  • 1 - The Small Town as a Political Laboratory 1
  • Notes 5
  • 2 - West Point: History and Community Profile 7
  • Notes 25
  • 3 - West Point: Social Attitudes, Political Culture, and Electoral Behavior 27
  • Notes 56
  • 4 - West Point: Government, Politics, and Public Policy 61
  • Notes 101
  • 5 - Power, Influence, and Policymaking in West Point 105
  • Notes 145
  • 6 - The Chesapeake Corporation and West Point: Chesapeake's Evolving Role in the Political Life of the Community 149
  • Notes 177
  • 7 - West Point's Polyarchy: A Mirror Image of American Politics 181
  • Notes 192
  • Bibliography 195
  • Index 205
  • About the Author 209
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