The Losing Parties: Out-Party National Committees, 1956-1993 / Edition 1

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Overview

How do Democratic and Republican party leaders react after their party has lost a presidential election? Is there a pattern of response to defeat that reflects the distinctive cultures of the two parties? This book answers these questions by examining how the two national party organizations have responded to presidential election defeats between 1956 and 1993. Drawing on party documents, interviews with party officials, and contemporary accounts, Philip Klinkner provides detailed case studies of opposition party politics. He shows that Republican national committees have reacted to losses by making organizational changes to improve campaign technology and fundraising and that losing Democrats have sought to refine or make more democratic their internal procedures for selecting delegates to the national convention or for choosing presidential candidates. Klinkner suggests that the reasons for these reactions stem from the historical development of the parties. The organizational response of the Republican party is the result of its long-term relationship with business, its homogeneity and hierarchical structure, and its minority party experience. The Democrats' emphasis on participation and representation for its constituent elements is based on its characteristic composition of social and economic out-groups, its heterogeneity and decentralization, and its tradition as the majority party.
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Editorial Reviews

Mary Carroll
How does a national political party that loses a U.S. presidential election react? Loyola Marymount political science professor Klinkner feels most theorizing on this subject has relied too much on abstract models and too little on detailed historical research. "The Losing Parties" seeks to fill this gap, drawing on primary and secondary written sources and more than 100 interviews with people involved with the Democratic and Republican National Committees from the mid-'50s to the early '90s. The range of possible responses, Klinkner suggests, includes policy, procedural, and organizational strategies. After a thorough analysis of seven postelection periods (1956-84) and a chapter on the impact of three more recent elections (1984, 1988, and 1992), the author concludes that the "culture" of each party (and party organization) predicts its behavior after a defeat more accurately than either the party's ideology or its desire for victory in the next election. Thus, Republicans almost always react to failure with organizational strategies, whereas Democrats tend to adopt procedural changes designed to make sure party processes adequately represent its supporters' will. Neither party learns much from the other's successes; each avoids the other's characteristic approaches because of cultural even more than ideological dissonance. Larger social sciences collections will want to add Klinkner's well-researched analysis to their shelves.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300060089
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/1994
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.43 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 0.93 (d)

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