tions favor Republicans. Equally significant trends suggest there is an electoral base for the Democrats. The crucial matter is how political parties respond to divergent trends and how the electorate responds to the parties. In Chapter 4 I turn to how parties have changed over time and how their primary policies have evolved.
The same ambiguity surrounds the divorce rate. It is regularly implied that we have entered an era where a growing proportion of marriages end in divorce, and that was not true in the past. Coontz ( 1992) argues that it is not that simple. The divorce rates of the 1950s were abnormally low, and the rates since then are perhaps more typical of prior eras than many acknowledge, or are aware of. The presumed decline in SAT scores is also questioned by some, who argue that the proportion of the public taking the tests has increased, and it is not appropriate to compare test scores taken by the best students in the 1960s with test scores taken by a broader cross-section that is less prepared. The point is that the apparent decline is perhaps not as simple and obvious as some commentators regularly imply.