Political Science | Partisan Transformation in American Politics
Y661 | 23138 | Carmines


Almost every presidential election leads to speculation about whether
it has resulted in a party realignment of American politics. By
partisan realignments remain puzzling phenomena.  The idea of
galvanizing change that restructures the political landscape cannot
fail to capture our attention.  And thus it is not surprising that
there exists a large and varied literature that focuses on various
dimensions of partisan transformation.  But the most fundamental
questions about partisan change have yet to be satisfactorily
answered.  Are realignments sudden and massive, or does it take a
decade or more for their cumulative impact to be large enough to be
observed?   Does partisan change have the drama of the revival tent
or is it just the inexorable pull of demography?  Are realignments
caused by crises or by the natural decay of old alignments?  Does the
evolution of mass party alignments follow a predictable sequential
pattern of realignment  stable alignment  dealignment or are
parties now experiencing realigning and dealigning influences
simultaneously?
This seminar will survey the literature on partisan change but, more
important, it will try to assess various proposed answers to the
above questions.  Our principal but not exclusive empirical focus
will be on patterns of partisan change experienced in the United
States.  Our ultimate objective will be to develop a coherent and
comprehensive understanding of the causes, dimensions, and
consequences of partisan transformations.