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Coalition-Building and the Politics of Electoral Capture During the Nixon Administration: African Americans, Labor, Latinos

    • Published online: 01 April 1998

In November of 1968, Richard Nixon became only the second Republican in four decades to win control of the Executive Office. For helpful comments, we would like to thank Shana Bass, Michael Brown, Scott James, David Mayhew, Corey Robin, Joel Silbey, Pam Singh, Stephen Skowronek, Tom Sugrue, Rick Valelly, and the anonymous reviewers for Studies in American Political Development. Unlike the administration of his party's predecessor, Dwight Eisenhower, Nixon's presidency would ultimately display a willingness to aggressively confront the then-dominant New Deal order of the Democratic party and, in the process, attempt to forge a new electoral majority. In many ways, Nixon's efforts were shaped by historical and institutional circumstances. The civil rights movement of the early 1960s had successfully pushed Democratic party leaders to take legislative action against racial discrimination in the southern United States, effectively shattering their party's century- old alliance with white segregationists in the region. Meanwhile, efforts by the Supreme Court and Democratic legislators to provide substantive civil rights in areas of the country outside of the South strained their party's relationship with urban and blue-collar white-ethnic voters.See Thomas J. Sugrue, The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), esp. chap. 8; and Jonathan Rieder, Canarsie: The Jews and Italians of Brooklyn Against Liberalism (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985). Nixon courted these disaffected Democrats in the 1968 campaign through both the “Southern Strategy” and appeals to the so-called “Silent Majority,” a symbolic reference meant to contrast his supporters from the civil rights activists “blamed” for disrupting more traditional ways of life.

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Studies in American Political Development
  • ISSN: 0898-588X
  • EISSN: 1469-8692
  • URL: /core/journals/studies-in-american-political-development
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