Party development and the depoliticization of interests

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Ladewig, Jeffrey Wayne

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Since 1950, the strength of the American political parties has been a focus of much scholarly attention. General theories of party development must be able to account for the recent decline and resurgence of political and must be applicable to each of the three aspects of political parties. Most theories do not; my dissertation does by focusing on constituent interests. I create a theory of party development based on ‘demand-side’ causes and secular trends. In particular, I posit two prime hypotheses: fragmented constituent coalitions produce weak parties while majoritarian constituent coalitions produce strong parties. Trade and monetary policies had been most important to constituent. Despite being depoliticized during the Progressive reforms, these interests remain central. The interests are modeled by one of two economic theories: the Ricardo-Viner (sectoral coalitions) and the Stolper-Samuelson (factoral coalitions.) The coalitions are then characterized as fragmented or majoritarian, respectively. vii In Chapter 3, I explore party-in-government. First, I show that trade and monetary policies are not legislative outliers. Second, I show that sectoral coalitions dominate from 1963 to 1980 and that factoral coalitions do afterwards. Third, I test each economic model and demonstrate that Congresspersons vote according to the interests of their districts. Finally, I show that sectoral coalitions produced weak parties and factoral coalitions produced strong parties. In Chapter 4, I explore party-in-the-electorate. First, I show that individuals do not consistently use partisan labels in Congressional elections when core constituent interests are fragmented but they do when core interests are majoritarian. I also test party identification, salience and affect on the changing level of party unity in Congress. Finally, the economic models and pooled data show that citizens vote according to their economic interests and the parties mirror these interests. Therefore, the empirical data confirms the theoretical hypotheses in each chapter and also the prime hypotheses. Fragmented constituent coalitions produce weaker parties. Majoritarian constituent coalitions produce stronger parties. As such, the secular trends that had largely motivated the strong parties of the 19th century are still present and still central even though the Progressive and New Deal era reforms depoliticized these core constituent interests




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