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Electoral Realignment and the Outlook for American Democracy
Arthur Paulson


Northeastern Series on Democratization and Political Development

Northeastern University Press
2006 • 240 pp. 42 illus. 6 x 9"
Political Science & Government / American History

$24.95 Paperback, 978-1-55553-667-1




"Paulson persuasively argues that 'the new, ideologically polarized party system need not tear at the fabric of American democracy . . . Recommended."—CHOICE

A keen look at the ideologically polarized political realities of “red-state” and “blue-state” America.

Journalists and the general public have seized upon the notion of “red” and “blue” states to better understand the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004, but this conception of political geography is seldom placed in historical perspective. In Electoral Realignment and the Outlook for American Democracy, Arthur Paulson analyzes the impact of ideological polarization on political parties and electoral realignment in the contemporary United States. Recalling the extensive realignment that occurred between 1964 and 1972 (with the contentious 1968 election as its fulcrum) and the three decades of split-ticket voting and “divided government” (most often featuring a Republican president and a Democratic Congress) that followed, Paulson recognizes the resurgence of party-line voting in the last decade. A new, ideologically polarized party system—resembling a responsible party system more than has ever been the case in the American experience—has taken shape. The American polity continues to realign, and Paulson discusses how the forces at work are reshaping the party system in particular and the health of American democracy in general. Although the United States is an “advanced” democracy, he demonstrates the need to view even American democracy as “developing.” If American democracy is to thrive, Paulson says, it must change to meet the realities of a rapidly changing world. The realigned system presents challenges to national unity, but it also offers opportunities for debating compelling issues that demand extreme choices, including zero-sum economics in a postindustrial society, globalization and the international economy, development and underdevelopment around the world, and terrorism, war, and peace.

Strong on realignment theory, Paulson’s timely and authoritative study incorporates the latest data from the 2000 and 2004 elections into his analysis, and it offers vital perspectives on the outlook for the 2008 election. Scholars and students of the American political system, American government, comparative politics, political theory, electoral politics, and American political culture will embrace this text, which easily lends itself to classroom adoption.

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Reviews:

"Arthur Paulson's goal in this work is not only to revive the concept of realignment as a useful tool for analysis of historical American politics, but to argue that the 1964-1972 period . . . was actually the most significant period of electoral realignment in American history. This new work . . . includes analysis of the impact of elections, international vents, and economic forces on realignment since 2000." —The Review of Politics

Endorsements:

“Paulson breathes life into the concept of historical realignments. He especially clarifies what occurred in the 1960s, emphasizing factional battles in both of the major parties--who fought, who came out on top, and how those fights set the stage for today's polarized party system."—Richard Niemi, Watson Professor of Political Science, University of Rochester



ARTHUR PAULSON is Professor of Political Science at Southern Connecticut State University. He is the author of Realignment and Party Revival: Understanding American Electoral Politics at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century (2000) and has written many papers on electoral politics and democracy.






Fri, 21 Sep 2012 08:29:56 -0500