The Evolution and Alteration of American Party Coalitions

Mark D. Brewer

in The Oxford Handbook of American Political Parties and Interest Groups

Published in print January 2010 | ISBN: 9780199542628
Published online May 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of American Politics

The Evolution and Alteration of American Party Coalitions

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  • US Politics
  • Political Behaviour



This article argues that, at their most fundamental level, political parties have one primary goal: the construction of a coalition that enables them to win elections and exercise governmental power. In particular, it explores the electoral coalitions of both the Republican and Democratic parties. A heavy emphasis is placed on mapping partisan change from the 1930s to the present, explaining how and why change took place, and examining the meaning of change. The article finally provides a discussion of what this dynamic shows about electoral change, and a bit of speculation about what the partisan change of the future might look like. The Republican and Democratic parties of the early twenty-first century are very different from each other, offering Americans relatively clear policy choices across the board. These differences exist, to a certain extent, because the two parties have very different electoral coalitions.

Keywords: American party coalitions; governmental power; Republican party; Democratic party; partisan change; elections

Article.  10895 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Political Behaviour

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