The alienated, alienating Democrats, and the causes and likely lifespan of Republican successes

Mark Graber mgraber at gvpt.umd.edu
Mon Jun 13 10:46:13 PDT 2005


Let me play political scientist and suggest a different understanding of
certain features of contemporary politics.  As I suspect I have said
before, most of the understandings of politics being articulated on this
list are directly or indirectly derived from the political science of
the 1950s, which essentially saw politics as a struggle for the middle. 
Numerous political scientists now recognize that these models to not
explain the politics of the past 20 years, Republican or Democrat.  In a
polarized system, politics is about mobilizing your base.  At the risk
of incredible oversimplification, you mobilize your base because the
number of safe partisan seats is dramatically increased (hence,
primaries matter as much if not more than the general election), and
because campaigns depend far more on resources such as money (which the
base disproportionately provides) then the median voter (which the
middle provides).  I think these developments are constitutionally
important and, because they influence both parties (read Nelson Polsby
on the behavior of the Democratic class of 1974) can be talked about
without placing absolute blame on one side of the other.

Mark A. Graber


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