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Politics Of The Usa Political Parties Notes

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Martin P. Wattenberg. The Decline of American Political Parties, 1952-1996. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1996 Jo Freeman (1986). The Political Culture of the Democratic and Republican Parties. Political Science Quarterly, 101:3 Marc J. Hetherington (2009). Review Article: Putting Polarization in Perspective. British Journal of Political Science, 39:2 Kathleen Bawn, et al (2012). A Theory of Political Parties: Groups, Policy Demands and Nominations in American Politics. Perspectives on Politics, 10:3 Byron Shafer. Bifurcated Politics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1988 Mark D. Brewer & Jeffrey M. Stonecash. Dynamics of American Political Parties. New York, NY: Cambridge UP 2009 Alan Ware. The American Direct Primary: Party Institutionalisation and Transformation in the North. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2002 Geoffrey C. Layman et al (2010). Activists and Conflict Extension in American Party Politics. American Political Science Review, 104:2 Alan Abramowitz & Kyle Saunders (1998). Ideological Realignment in the US Electorate. Journal of Politics, 60 William Schreckhise & Todd Shields (2003). Ideological Realignment in the Contemporary US Electorate Revisited. Social Science Quarterly, 84 Thomas Carsey (2006). Changing Sides or Changing Minds? Party Identification and Policy Preferences in the American Electorate. American Journal of Political Science, 50 Costas Panagopoulos (2010). Are Caucuses Bad for Democracy? Political Science Quarterly, 125 Cindy Kam & Donald Kinder (2012). Ethnocentrism as a Short-Term Force in the 2008 American Presidential Election. American Journal of Political Science, 56

2 Martin P. Wattenberg. The Decline of American Political Parties, 19521996. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1996 Chapters 1-3


Partisanship is consistently more stable than voting behaviour (long- v. short-term): partisanship expresses citizen's standing decision to vote for a party 'under normal circumstances', so defect when the candidate deviates from more-or-less ideal preferences. Party evaluation, however, is not stable - fluctuates much more than identification.


Cognitive coherence: party identifiers tend to adjust their perceptions of the parties' stances such that their own beliefs cohere with the party's (conservative Democrats see party as more conservative) - this gives politicians room for manoeuvre within a limited issue space. Party identification serves as a 'storage device' to cut down info costs: like a running scorecard.


'Independent leaners' have often just as consistent voting patterns as Dems and Reps: virtually identical defection rates. If counted as partisans, proportion of party identifiers has hardly declined at all - the growth of Independents has been among closet partisans!


The data on Independents is meaningless. Only a subset of those labelled independents by pollsters self-identify as such: the proportion of no-preference voters has shot up, but not the proportion of self-identifying political Independents has not gone up so much. ('Independent' denotes predisposition not to identify with party; 'no-preference' doesn't.)

3 Jo Freeman (1986). The Political Culture of the Democratic and Republican Parties. Political Science Quarterly, 101:3 There is a fundamental difference between Democratic and Republican political cultures.

1. STRUCTURAL DIFFERENCE. Dem, power flows up; Rep, flows down.

* Democrats. Multiple power centres,

* Republicans. Unitary party with competing for membership support in deference to leadership and strong order to make demands on and select expectations of loyalty. Constituencies are the leaders. Coalitional and pluralistic not mechanisms for exercising power: comprises independent groups, geographic units and ideological factions recognised as representatives of are only internal mechanisms, for important blocs. Caucuses represent mobilising support - not distinct levels of distinct interests, with ex-officio operation. Factions seek to influence membership of DNC Exec. overall direction - not win benefits for specific groups. (a) Convention activities a. Democrats: Open caucus meetings; candidates speak to campaign. b. Republicans: Invitation-only receptions; perfunctory speeches. (b) Legitimacy a. Democrats: Determined by whom you represent; responsive to demands for reform. Undermined by claims that it is unrepresentative of a relevant bloc of voters: had assumed that geographic representation would reflect interests of voting blocs but evidence of black exclusion from Southern delegations spurred endless reform commissions...
b. Republicans: Determined by whom you know; responsive to changes in leadership. Supporters of losing candidates get completely cut off, can't work for others' campaigns; rewards dedicated party activists, loyalty rewarded.

2. ATTITUDINAL DIFFERENCE. Dem, outsiders on inside; Rep, insiders on outside.


Democrats see themselves as representing *
the periphery; feel strong government is necessary to counterbalance private economic domination. Representation is inclusion of broad groups. No common agenda: no conception of national interest independent of aggregate interests.

Republicans see themselves as representing the centre; core constituencies see government as threat to private interests. Representation is trusteeship: believe in national interest above aggregation, catering for economy will benefit the parts.

(a) Organisational style a. Democrats: Speaking out is a means of access; groups gain power by winning recognition for salience. Rely on social donations of time and commitment: 4

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