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Parties in Transition

Parties in Transition

Warren E. Miller
M. Kent Jennings
in association with Barbara G. Farah
Copyright Date: 1986
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Parties in Transition
    Book Description:

    Every four years, the drama of presidential selection inspires a reassessment of our political parties. Central to this assessment are the delegates who gather at Democratic and Republican national conventions.Parties in Transitionpresents a richly modulated body of data of the changing attitudes and behaviors of these delegates-their ideologies and loyalties, their recruitment into presidential politics, their persistence in or disengagement from it. Covering three recent sets of conventions and involving over five thousand delegates, this comprehensive study makes an essential contribution to our understanding of American party politics.

    "Richer and more authoritative than most of the best works in the field." -Election Politics

    "A most important study of change in the American political scene....Richly deserves to be read." -John H. Kessel, Ohio State University

    "[A] shrewd and sophisticated analysis....Both scholars and practitioners should read this book and ponder it." -Austin Ranney, University of California, Berkeley

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-397-5
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xii)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  4. List of Figures
    (pp. xix-xx)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xxi-xxvi)
    Warren E. Miller and M. Kent Jennings
  6. PART I The Structure and Mechanics of Elite Circulation and Candidate Preference

    • CHAPTER 1 Introduction: Background, Context, and Objectives
      (pp. 3-20)

      Thanks to the U.S. Constitution—which never once mentions political parties—the study of political parties in the United States is plagued by countless continuing problems of concept and definition. For our purposes, a political party exists if a group “however loosely organized [seeks] to elect government office-holders under a given label.”¹ But this simple and straightforward definition, which by-passes problems of reconciling subjective identification with patterns of partisan behavior or with formal membership status, does not address the real origin of the difficulties that underlie the study of American parties. In the first place, the Constitution guarantees states’ rights,...

    • CHAPTER 2 The Circulation of Campaign Activists
      (pp. 21-38)

      The generic task of setting boundaries to define an elite is classically given over to determining whether one or more of three criteria is met: (1) For the arena in question, does the individual in question hold a relevant formal organizational position? (2) Does the person exercise power and influence by virtue of decision-making authority? (3) Is the person accorded power status by reputation?¹ In matters of electoral politics these criteria are not always helpful. This is so because politics, and presidential election politics in particular, is anything but rationally or formally organized. The national parties are clearly more than...

    • CHAPTER 3 Candidate Preferences
      (pp. 39-64)

      The presidential candidates play a major, if often indirect, role in determining the personnel of our campaign elite. In the first instance, they initiate their own candidacies and, by becoming visible alternatives for political leadership, they attract followers. Subsequently, as viable candidates they are responsible for primary election and caucus decisions that ultimately select delegates who thereby enter our population of campaign activists. The candidates, or their organizational representatives, may indeed intervene directly in the ultimate selection of personnel as they assemble slates that compete in primary elections or local nominating conventions or as they dictate the selection of “super...

  7. PART II Changes Within the Parties

    • CHAPTER 4 Party Reform: Social Composition and Party Attachment
      (pp. 67-85)

      The circulation of campaign personnel in the period following 1972 is central to many of our analytic concerns. Among other interests, it provides a first insight into some of the extended consequences of the movement to reform the presidential selection process. “Reform,” especially within the Democratic party, included broadening the representation and increasing the participation of social groups that had presumably been excluded by white male dominance of party organization decisions. The Miami convention of 1972, with its collection of counterculture people and their often flamboyant public appearances, provided a colorful image of the consequences of including groups previously only...

    • CHAPTER 5 The Motivational Bases of Political Involvement
      (pp. 86-112)

      Because changes in national party leadership ultimately reshape national politics as well as national governments, the professional student of American politics must be perennially concerned with the institutional structures which channel the processes of leadership selection. In the past decade the literature on American politics has been preoccupied with the changes that have been made in the rules governing participation in the presidential selection process. However much change may have been needed to reestablish Democratic party legitimacy and power, much of the interest in the changes stems from a fear that the process may have been opened to a wider...

    • CHAPTER 6 The Place of Parties, Issues, and Candidates in Presidential Campaigning
      (pp. 113-128)

      In the previous chapter our analysis of the impact of intraparty struggles for leadership on the relative importance attached to goals and values associated with presidential politics was limited to evidence provided by attitudinal measures without a specific time referent. The analysis extended earlier research which had emphasized different perspectives associated with different patterns of candidate preference. It also demonstrated that turnover in the population of campaign activists was associated with changes of emphasis on goals and rewards between 1972 and 1981. The attitudinal analysis has been limited, however, in a number of particulars, all of which are likely to...

    • CHAPTER 7 Partisan Cultures: Policy Preferences, Group Evaluations, and Ideological Attributes
      (pp. 129-158)

      The struggle for the presidency is preeminently a struggle between and among individual candidates and their supporters. But the rise and fall of candidate fortunes is also the rise and fall of commitments to different policy choices. All of the post-World War II contests for Republican party leadership and nomination were contests between or among clearly delineated ideological factions of the party. On the Democratic side, the picture is slightly more ambiguous only because some of the personal contests, as between Stevenson and Kefauver in 1956 or Kennedy and Humphrey in 1960, were contests for leadership of the liberal wing...

  8. PART III Systemic Consequences

    • CHAPTER 8 The Dynamics of Interparty Conflict
      (pp. 161-188)

      In large measure our previous chapters have been restricted to an examination of within-party analysis at the level of political elites. Differences between the parties have been treated in passing and primarily in terms of different dynamics at work within each party between 1972 and 1980. It was sufficient to observe, in chapters 6 and 7 especially, that party elites stand some distance from each other with respect to attitudes on policy preferences. In this chapter we will focus on the nature of the fundamental and often vast differences between the parties, differences which belie a popular image of the...

    • Chapter 9 Linkages Between Party Elites and Party Followers
      (pp. 189-219)

      The previous chapter set in place the contrasting opinion cultures of party elites and the impact of circulation and conversion processes in maintaining and modifying interparty cleavages. But if party elites are supposed to exist in an adversarial state vis-à-vis each other, they are also expected to establish a more harmonious relationship vis-à-vis their respective rank-and-file followers. A key normative feature of modern democratic representation theory is that representatives reflect the preferences and demands of those being represented. Of course other, sometimes conflicting, norms are attached to the representation role.¹ Thus, acting on behalf of the represented may involve going...

    • CHAPTER 10 Candidate Preferences, Circulation, and Mass-Elite Linkages
      (pp. 220-237)

      The question of political representation by campaign activists is perhaps most focused when attention is turned to the various candidate support groups, for candidates become the focal point around which much of the preconvention and postconvention activities form. Well beyond the convention period, and even the election year, the parties are often characterized in terms of particular factions made up of leaders and followers identified with a single candidate or with a succession of candidates having similar pedigrees. Given the centrality of candidate groups that we have observed in earlier chapters, it is important to see how closely their preferences...

    • CHAPTER 11 A Summing Up
      (pp. 238-254)

      Political parties, like most organizations, are made up of both stable and variable elements. Because presidential parties are focused on the selection and election of a presidential candidate they, probably more than most party units, are destined to remain in flux as constitutional constraints and the dynamics of social and economic change produce an ebb and flow in the fortunes of various presidential aspirants. Particularly in a time in which party leadership and possibly the foundations of the party system are in transition, it is difficult to understand and to assess the highlights associated with individual nominating conventions, or even...


    • Appendix A Delegate Attributes
      (pp. 256-259)
    • Appendix B The 1981 Survey
      (pp. 260-264)
    • Appendix C Comparison of Panel and Nonpanel Respondents
      (pp. 265-268)
    • Appendix D Patterns of Candidate Preference
      (pp. 269-270)
    • Appendix E Reasons for Political Involvement
      (pp. 271-271)
    • Appendix F Index Construction
      (pp. 272-276)
  10. Index
    (pp. 277-284)