Fifth Party System

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The Fifth Party System, also called the New Deal Party System, refers to the system of politics in the United States that began in 1933 with a realignment caused by the Great Depression in the U.S.. The New Deal Coalition was forged by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and kept his Democratic Party in power most of the time until 1968.[1]. It followed the Fourth Party System, (usually called the Progressive Era by historians). Experts debate whether it ended in the mid-1960s and was replaced by the Sixth Party System, or continues to the present. Paulson (2006) argues that a decisive realignment took place in the late 1960s.

Contents

Partisanship

The System was heavily Democratic through 1964 and heavily Republican at the presidential level since 1968, with the Senate switching back and forth after 1980. The Democrats usually controlled the House except that the Republicans won in 1946, 1952, and 1994 through 2004 elections. Both Houses went Democratic in 2006. Of the nineteen presidential elections since 1932, the Democrats won 7 of the first 9 (through 1964), while the GOP won 7 of the 10 since 1968. Down to 1964 Democratic control of Congress was the norm, but the Conservative coalition had effective veto power; since 1966 divided government has been the norm.

With Republican promises of prosperity discredited by the Great Depression, the four consecutive elections, 1932-36-40-44 of Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt gave the Democrats dominance, though in domestic issues the Conservative coalition generally controlled Congress from 1938 to 1964. The activist New Deal promoted American liberalism, anchored in a New Deal Coalition that dominated the Democratic party. The party was dominated by liberal groups, especially ethno-religious minorities (Catholics, Jews, African Americans), white Southerners, well-organized labor unions, big city machines, intellectuals, and liberal farm groups. Opposition Republicans were split between a conservative wing, led by Senator Robert A. Taft, and a more successful moderate wing led by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

New rules

New rules took effect that changed the political universe. The most important was the enfranchisement of the blacks in the South, thanks to the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In addition, poll taxes were abolished, 18 year old were given the right to vote, and the role of women was informally expanded inside both parties. At the same time the old big city machines, with their neighborhood structures, collapsed in nearly every city. Communications media changes with the rise of television after 1960 as the dominant medium for political discourse and campaign advertising.

Collapse of 5th Party System

The period climaxed with Lyndon B. Johnson's smashing electoral defeat of conservative Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater in 1964; in no other election since 1944 has the Democratic party received more than 50.1% of the popular vote for President.[2] The Democratic coalition divided in 1948 and 1968, in the latter election allowing the Republican candidate Richard Nixon to take the White House. Democrats kept control of the House until the 1994 election. For the next twelve years the GOP was in control with small majorities, until the Democrats recaptured the House in 2006. The Democrats held the Senate until 1980; since then the two parties have traded control of the Senate back and forth with small majorities.

Sixth Party System

The Sixth Party System is variously dated by scholars, usually from 1968 or 1980. Shafer (2007) calls it the "Late New Deal System." The 6th System was characterized by a Republican dominance, with the GOP winning 7 of 10 presidential elections from 1968 through 2004. Control of Congress was split. The dominant leader of the 6th Party System was Ronald Reagan, with Republicans using his as their standard of proper politics into the late 21st century.

New voter coalitions included the emergence of the "religious right" -- a combination of Catholics and fundamentalist Protestants united on opposition to abortion and gay rights. On the left, to a lesser degree, Democrats augmented their coalition with well educated voters, gays, and non-religious seculars. The Hispanic population grew very rapidly, reaching 15% of the population, but turnout was so low they were not a major factor in voting, except in California. Although George W. Bush made a special effort to reach Hispanics, their negative reaction to Republican nativism on the issue of immigration strengthened the Democratic affiliations of those Hispanics who voted.


New rules changes involved campaign financing, as very large sums were raised and candidates spent much of their energy focused on raising money behind the scenes. New campaign technologies involved the Internet, but television advertising continued to grow in importance, overshadowing the Internet as a campaign tool. Howard Dean in 2004 demonstrated that the Internet could be used to organize and finance a crusade, and this model was followed by most of the candidates for the 2008 election, with Barack Obama and Ron Paul the most successful.

New Deal Coalition: voting %D 1948-1964

% Democratic vote in major groups, presidency 1948-1964

1948

1952

1956

1960

1964

all voters

50

45

42

50

61

White

50

43

41

49

59

Black

50

79

61

68

94

College

22

34

31

39

52

High School

51

45

42

52

62

Grade School

64

52

50

55

66

Professional & Business

19

36

32

42

54

White Collar

47

40

37

48

57

Manual worker

66

55

50

60

71

Farmer

60

33

46

48

53

Union member

76

51

62

77

Not union

42

35

44

56

Protestant

43

37

37

38

55

Catholic

62

56

51

78

76

Republican

8

4

5

20

Independent

35

30

43

56

Democrat

77

85

84

87

East

48

45

40

53

68

Midwest

50

42

41

48

61

West

49

42

43

49

60

South

53

51

49

51

52

Source: Gallup Polls in Gallup (1972)


see also

Bibliography

  • Aldrich, John H. "Political Parties in a Critical Era," American Politics Research, vol 27#1 (1999) online abstract speculates on emergence of Seventh Party System
  • Allswang, John M. New Deal and American Politics (1978), statistical analysis of votes
  • Andersen, Kristi. The Creation of a Democratic Majority, 1928-1936 (1979), statistical analysis of polls
  • Bell, Jonathan. The Liberal State on Trial: The Cold War and American Politics in the Truman Years, (2004), 404pp; detailed analysis of impact of foreign policy on key elections 1946-48-50 excerpt and text search
  • Bibby, John F. "Party Organizations, 1946-1996," in Byron E. Shafer, ed. Partisan Approaches to Postwar American Politics, (1998)
  • Bullock, Charles S., Donna R. Hoffman, and Ronald Keith Gaddie. "Regional Variations in the Realignment of American Politics, 1944–2004," Social Science Quarterly, 87 (Sept. 2006), 494–518.
  • Campbell, Angus, Philip Converse, Warren Miller, Donald Stokes. The American Voter (1964), highly influential study by Michigan School of voter psychology in 1950s. excerpt and text search
  • Campbell, Angus, Philip Converse, Warren Miller, Donald Stokes. Elections and the Political Order (1966) influential study of voters in early 1960s by Michigan School.
  • Campbell, James E. "Party Systems and Realignments in the United States, 1868–2004," Social Science History, 30 (Fall 2006), 359–86.
  • Campbell, James E. American Campaign: U.S. Presidential Campaigns and the National Vote (2000) excerpt and text search
  • Campbell, Tracy. Deliver the Vote: A History of Election Fraud, an American Political Tradition-1742-2004 (2005) excerpt and text search
  • Donaldson, Gary A. The First Modern Campaign: Kennedy, Nixon, and the Election of 1960 (2007), the standard scholarly history
  • Fraser, Steve, and Gary Gerstle, eds. The Rise and Fall of the New Deal Order, 1930-1980 (1990), essays on broad topics.
  • Geer, John G. "New Deal Issues and the American Electorate, 1952-1988," Political Behavior, 14#1 (Mar., 1992), pp. 45-65 online at JSTOR
  • Gershtenson, Joseph. "Mobilization Strategies of the Democrats and Republicans, 1956-2000," Political Research Quarterly Vol. 56, No. 3 (Sep., 2003), pp. 293-308 in JSTOR
  • Green, John C. and Paul S. Herrnson. "Party Development in the Twentieth Century: Laying the Foundations for Responsible Party Government?" (2000)
  • Hamby, Alonzo. Liberalism and Its Challengers: From F.D.R. to Bush (1992).
  • Jensen, Richard. "The Last Party System: Decay of Consensus, 1932-1980," in The Evolution of American Electoral Systems (Paul Kleppner et al. eds.) (1981) pp 219-225,
  • Keller, Morton. America's Three Regimes: A New Political History (2007) 384pp.
  • Ladd Jr., Everett Carll with Charles D. Hadley. Transformations of the American Party System: Political Coalitions from the New Deal to the 1970s 2nd ed. (1978).
  • Leuchtenburg, William E. In the Shadow of FDR: From Harry Truman to George W. Bush (2001)
  • Levine, Jeffrey; Carmines, Edward G.; and Huckfeldt, Robert. "The Rise of Ideology in the Post-New Deal Party System, 1972-1992." American Politics Quarterly (1997) 25(1): 19-34. Issn: 0044-7803 Argues that the social basis of the New Deal party system has weakened. The result is ideology shapes partisan support.
  • Manza, Jeff and Clem Brooks; Social Cleavages and Political Change: Voter Alignments and U.S. Party Coalitions, (1999), quantitiative
  • Manza, Jeff; "Political Sociological Models of the U.S. New Deal" Annual Review of Sociology, 2000 pp 297+
  • Milkis, Sidney M. and Jerome M. Mileur, eds. The New Deal and the Triumph of Liberalism (2002)
  • Milkis, Sidney M. The President and the Parties: The Transformation of the American Party System Since the New Deal (1993)
  • Paulson, Arthur. Electoral Realignment and the Outlook for American Democracy (2006)
  • Perlstein, Rick. Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus (2002) very well written narrative of politics 1960-64 excerpt and text search
  • Perlstein, Rick. Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America (2008) very well written narrative of politics 1964-68
  • Robinson, Edgar Eugene. They Voted for Roosevelt: The Presidential Vote, 1932-1944 (1947) tables of votes by county
  • Sabato, Larry J., and Howard R. Ernst. Encyclopedia Of American Political Parties And Elections (2006) comprehensive coverage of politics since 1945.
  • Shafer, Byron E. "Where Are We in History? Political Orders and Political Eras in the Postwar U.S.," The Forum (2007) Vol. 5#3, Article 4. http://www.bepress.com/forum/vol5/iss3/art4 online edition]
  • Shafer, Byron E. and Anthony J. Badger, eds. Contesting Democracy: Substance and Structure in American Political History, 1775-2000 (2001)
  • Sternsher, Bernard. "The New Deal Party System: A Reappraisal," Journal of Interdisciplinary History v.15#1 (Summer, 1984), pp. 53-81 JSTOR
  • Sternsher, Bernard. "The Emergence of the New Deal Party System: A Problem in Historical Analysis of Voter Behavior," Journal of Interdisciplinary History, v.6#1 (Summer, 1975), pp. 127-149 online at JSTOR
  • Sundquist, James L. Dynamics of the Party System: Alignment and Realignment of Political Parties in the United States, (1983)
  • Wilentz, Sean. The Age of Reagan: A History, 1974-2008 (2008), major narrative history

Primary sources

  • Cantril, Hadley and Mildred Strunk, eds. Public Opinion, 1935-1946 (1951). A massive compilation of public opinion polls.
  • Gallup, George. The Gallup Poll: Public opinion, 1935-1971 (3 vol 1972), summarizes each poll

Footnotes

  1. Political scientists prefer the term "Fifth Party System"; historians call it the "New Deal System". The Party System model dates to the early 20th century. The numbering of the systems was introduced in 1967 by William N. Chambers and Walter D. Burnham, eds. American Party Systems (1967)
  2. See, for example, the election pages at presidentelect.org
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