1st Edition

Parties, Polarization and Democracy in the United States

ISBN 9781594516689
Published July 30, 2010 by Routledge
256 Pages

USD $24.95

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Book Description

As evidenced in the 2008 elections and the transition to a new era of Democratic governance, one of the most important developments in American politics in recent years has been the resurgence of political parties. Democrats and Republicans represent different world views and policies, citizens recognise these differences, and many of them use party labels to make sense of the political world. Parties, Polarisation and Democracy in the United States describes and analyses the place of political parties in American politics today - both among elites and citizens at large. Many scholars and pundits denounce political polarisation; they view it as a symptom of a broken political system that provides unappealing choices for voters and that is frequently mired in deadlock. Baumer and Gold make a different argument - that party polarisation offers the kind of choice and accountability to voters that was not always present in earlier periods of American political history.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Political Parties in the 21st Century Chapter 2 Parties and the Electorate: Take One Chapter 3 Parties and the Electorate: Take Two Chapter 4 The Midterm Elections of 1994 and 2006 Chapter 5 Parties in Power: Congress, Presidents, Partisanship and Gridlock Chapter 6 Political Parties in Anglo-America Chapter 7 Looking Backward and Forward: The Election of 2008 and the Future of American Politics

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“The authors present their thesis convincingly. Recommended.”

“Donald C. Baumer and Howard J. Gold's Parties, Polarization, and Democracy in the United States provides a finely-grained and nuanced account of the evolution of popular partisanship in the United States through an exhaustive analysis of the full sequence of American National Election Studies from 1952 through 2008. It may not settle all the debates about partisan polarization and the ‘culture wars,’ but its data and analyses are required reading for anyone wanting to understand or participate in them.”
—Gary C. Jacobson, University of California—San Diego

“Baumer and Gold have made an important contribution to the literature on political parties and their relationship to democratic performance in America. Among the many attractive features of their work are that they integrate electoral and governing performance exceedingly well; that they make a clear case for partisan and ideological sorting as the important dynamic at the voter level; and that the coherence of the two parties, the robust debate in which they engage, and their fealty to position and thus to their supporting coalition are positive signs for American democracy. I especially like their claim that American parties today stand at least as distinctively, and apparently actually more distinctively, as their peers in Australia, Britain, and Canada, and that in the 2004 and 2008 elections, ideology has come to rival partisanship as a determinant of vote choice in the public. All in all, they make a strong case for the centrality of political parties for democratic governance.”
—John Aldrich, Duke University

“It has always been fashionable to disparage the role of political parties in America. However, in spite of all the changes in American life—from television to the Internet— that were supposed to make them obsolete, political parties persist in having meaning for the voting public. Baumer and Gold have done a masterful job of assembling the data that prove, once again, that political parties matter.”
—Elaine C. Kamarck, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, author of Primary Politics: How Presidential Candidates Have Shaped the Modern Nominating System