Campaigns to win the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations are longer, more complex, and more confusing to the observer than the general election itself. The maze of delegate-selection procedures includes state primaries and caucuses as well as the traditional "smoke-filled room." Complicated federal election laws govern campaign financing. Sometimes many candidates enter and drop out of the race, while sometimes a stable two-way contest occurs: the 1976 nomination campaigns of Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford exemplified each extreme. Is it possible to propose general principles to explain the apparent chaos of our presidential nomination system? Can those principles account for two such starkly different campaigns as occurred in 1976? In Before the Convention, political scientist John H. Aldrich presents a systematic analysis of presidential nomination politics, based on application of rational-choice models to candidate behavior. Aldrich views the candidates as decision makers with limited resources in a highly competitive environment. From this perspective, he seeks to determine why and how candidates choose to run, why some succeed and others fail, and what consequences the nomination process has for the general election and, later, for the President in office.
Aldrich begins with a brief history of the presidential selection process, focusing on the continuing shift of power from political elites to the mass electorate. He then turns to a detailed analysis of the 1976 nomination campaigns. Using data from a variety of sources, Aldrich demonstrates that the very different patterns in these races both conform to the rational-choice model. The analysis includes consideration of numerous questions of strategy. Is there a "momentum" to campaigns? How does a candidate identify and exploit this intangible quality? How do candidates decide where to contend and where not to contend? What is the nature of policy competition among candidates? When does a candidate prefer a "fuzzy" position to a clearly stated one? Other topics include reforms in campaign financing and the expanded and changed role of news coverage.
Before the Convention fills a significant gap in the literature on presidential politics, and therefore should be of particular importance to specialists in this area. It will be ofinterest also to everyone who is concerned with understanding the "rules of the game" for a complicated but vitally important exercise of American democracy.
Voters do not always choose their preferred candidate on election day. Often they cast their ballots to prevent a particular outcome, as when their own preferred candidate has no hope of winning and they want to prevent another, undesirable candidate’s victory; or, they vote to promote a single-party majority in parliamentary systems, when their own candidate is from a party that has no hope of winning. In their thought-provoking book The Many Faces of Strategic Voting, Laura B. Stephenson, John H. Aldrich, and André Blais first provide a conceptual framework for understanding why people vote strategically, and what the differences are between sincere and strategic voting behaviors. Expert contributors then explore the many facets of strategic voting through case studies in Great Britain, Spain, Canada, Japan, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, and the European Union.
Why Parties?: A Second Look
John H. Aldrich University of Chicago Press, 2011 Library of Congress JK2261.A458 2011 | Dewey Decimal 324.273
Since its first appearance fifteen years ago, Why Parties? has become essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the nature of American political parties. In the interim, the party system has undergone some radical changes. In this landmark book, now rewritten for the new millennium, John H. Aldrich goes beyond the clamor of arguments over whether American political parties are in resurgence or decline and undertakes a wholesale reexamination of the foundations of the American party system.
Surveying critical episodes in the development of American political parties—from their formation in the 1790s to the Civil War—Aldrich shows how they serve to combat three fundamental problems of democracy: how to regulate the number of people seeking public office, how to mobilize voters, and how to achieve and maintain the majorities needed to accomplish goals once in office. Aldrich brings this innovative account up to the present by looking at the profound changes in the character of political parties since World War II, especially in light of ongoing contemporary transformations, including the rise of the Republican Party in the South, and what those changes accomplish, such as the Obama Health Care plan. Finally, Why Parties? A Second Look offers a fuller consideration of party systems in general, especially the two-party system in the United States, and explains why this system is necessary for effective democracy.
Since the founding of the American Republic, the North and South have followed remarkably different paths of political development. Among the factors that have led to their divergence throughout much of history are differences in the levels of competition among the political parties. While the North has generally enjoyed a well-defined two-party system, the South has tended to have only weakly developed political parties—and at times no system of parties to speak of.
With Why Parties Matter, John H. Aldrich and John D. Griffin make a compelling case that competition between political parties is an essential component of a democracy that is responsive to its citizens and thus able to address their concerns. Tracing the history of the parties through four eras—the Democratic-Whig party era that preceded the Civil War; the post-Reconstruction period; the Jim Crow era, when competition between the parties virtually disappeared; and the modern era—Aldrich and Griffin show how and when competition emerged between the parties and the conditions under which it succeeded and failed. In the modern era, as party competition in the South has come to be widely regarded as matching that of the North, the authors conclude by exploring the question of whether the South is poised to become a one-party system once again with the Republican party now dominant.
Why did the United States develop political parties? How and why do party alignments change? Are the party-centered elections of the past better for democratic politics than the candidate-centered elections of the present? In this landmark book, John Aldrich goes beyond the clamor of arguments over whether American political parties are in resurgence or decline and undertakes a wholesale reexamination of the foundations of the American party system.
Surveying three critical episodes in the development of American political parties—from their formation in the 1790s to the Civil War—Aldrich shows how parties serve to combat three fundamental problems of democracy: how to regulate the number of people seeking public office; how to mobilize voters; and how to achieve and maintain the majorities needed to accomplish goals once in office. Overcoming these obstacles, argues Aldrich, is possible only with political parties.
Aldrich brings this innovative account up to date by looking at the profound changes in the character of political parties since World War II. In the 1960s, he shows, parties started to become candidate-centered organizations that are servants to their office seekers and officeholders. Aldrich argues that this development has revitalized parties, making them stronger, and more vital, with well-defined cleavages and highly effective governing ability.