critical elections

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V. O. Key (1908—1963)


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A pair (or longer series) of elections in which political alignments change fundamentally. The term was coined by V. O. Key in 1955 to denote the US Presidential Elections of 1928 and 1932, in which various social groups (especially urban ‘ethnics’ and blacks) switched from Republican to Democratic support, and stayed switched. As the term implies a shift which is not reversed, it is impossible for a single election to be critical, but the term is often used loosely and incorrectly to mean ‘any election in which there is a big swing’.

Subjects: Politics.

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