Political Issues and Party Alignments: Assessing the Issue Evolution Perspective
Posted: 10 Jan 2008
Although the study of realignment is an essential component of the rich and fruitful tradition of examining long-term partisan change, questions about the usefulness of the concept persist. We seek to redirect and reinvigorate the study of lasting political change by evaluating the critiques of classic realignment theory, examining the issue evolution perspective, and assessing whether the theory of issue evolution can be used to explain recent research on the relationship between political issues and partisan change. Our review of the theoretical and empirical literature investigating political issues and party alignments sheds light on both the utility of the issue evolution perspective and the conditions under which durable changes in party alignments are most likely to occur.
Keywords: critical elections, political parties, polarization, party identification, realignment
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