Electoral Realignments

Electoral Realignments - ? Annu. Rev. Polit. Sci. 2000....

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Unformatted text preview: ? Annu. Rev. Polit. Sci. 2000. 3:44974 Copyright c 2000 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved E LECTORAL R EALIGNMENTS David R. Mayhew Department of Political Science, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-830l; e-mail: david.mayhew@yale.edu Key Words realignments, critical elections, presidential elections, cyclical theories Abstract American electoral realignment theory, as constructed in its classic form chiey by Key, Schattschneider, Sundquist, and Burnham, can be sorted into 11distinctempiricalclaims. Thesepertaintodichotomizationofelectiontypes,period- icity, a cyclical dynamic, high voter turnout, durable new issue cleavages, ideologized elections, nationalization of issues, major changes in government policy, redistributive policy, effectiveandconsequentialvotervoice, andthesystemof1896. Theseclaims are assessed for their empirical validity and illuminative power. INTRODUCTION ThestudyofUSelectoralrealignments, whichenjoyeditsheydayinthe1960sand 1970s, was one of the most creative, engaging, and inuential intellectual enter- prises undertaken by American political scientists during the last half century. It rivaled the Michigan election studies. It offered certiable science, in the sense of a conceptual scheme, a theory, and quantitative analysis; breadth, in tackling large political questions associated with all of American national history; and even an eschatology, in the sense that it has induced generations of students and others, armedwithakeytohistoricaldevelopment,tokeepasking,Isanelectoralrealign- ment about to happen? or Have we been witnessing an electoral realignment this year? Fundamental to the appeal and inuence of the realignments enterprise was the talent of four major entrepreneurs during its creative early days. First came Key and Schattschneider, who contributed important groundwork, and then Sundquist andBurnham,whoprovidedtheprincipalstatementsinthegenre. Allfourofthese writers exhibited a prodigious, sure-footed command of the factual particulars of American political history as well as a rare capacity to generalize by detecting patterns. Small wonder that the genre made such a mark. Here I address what might be called the classic phase of the realignments genre, which means chiey works by these four writers. I touch on subsequent claims by Brady; I take up critical commentaries by the trio of Clubb, Flanigan, and Zingale, and by Bartels; and I refer to a few works outside the genre, but I do not address 1094-2939/00/0623-0449$14.00 449 A n n u . R e v . P o l i t . S c i . 2 . 3 : 4 4 9- 4 7 4 . D o w n l o a d e d f r o m w w w . a n n u a l r e v i e w s . o r g b y F l o r i d a S t a t e U n i v e r s i t y o n 1 / 1 3 / 1 . F o r p e r s o n a l u s e o n l y . ?...
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Electoral Realignments - ? Annu. Rev. Polit. Sci. 2000....

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