Congressional Parties and Civil Rights Politics from 1933 to 1972
The Journal of Politics, Vol. 72, No. 3, pp. 672-89, July 2010
18 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2011 Last revised: 4 Oct 2014
Date Written: 2010
The reversal in the Democratic and Republican parties’ positions on civil rights is widely viewed as one of the most important political transformations in the last century. Drawing upon new indicators of members’ support for civil rights - which more effectively gauge preferences than do the roll-call based measures analyzed in previous studies - we show that northern Democrats displaced northern Republicans as the leading advocates of civil rights in the House beginning in the mid-1940s, and that the gap gradually increased thereafter. Rather than a relatively sudden change driven by national party elites, we argue that the civil rights realignment was a response to the two parties’ coalitional partners.
Keywords: realignment, partisan realignments, civil rights, political coalitions, Congress, roll call votes, discharge petitions
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