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The Transformation of Political Institutions: Investments in Institutional Resources and Gradual Change in the National Party Committees

  • Daniel J. Galvin (a1)
Abstract

Institutional theorists have made major progress in recent years examining gradual processes of endogenous institutional change. Building on this line of theorizing, this article highlights an often overlooked source of incremental change in political institutions: investments in institutional resources. Unlike path-dependent processes, which are relatively open at the front end and relatively closed at the back end, resource investments made in one period serve to widen an institution's path and enhance its capacity to undertake a broader range of activities in subsequent periods. Drawn out over time, these investments can gradually transform institutional operations and purposes. To illustrate these dynamics, this article reconsiders the transformation of the national party committees into “parties in service” to their candidates. The most influential theoretical explanation for this change is supplied by actor-centered functionalist accounts that either ignore the parties' institutional forms or treat them as mere reflections of actors' preferences. As an alternative, I suggest that investments in two types of institutional resources—human resources and information assets—were integral to the process through which each party changed. Piecemeal investments in these resources gradually enabled each national party committee to provide a wider range of campaign services to its candidates, thereby producing ostensibly new “functions” over time. Though the process of institutional change unfolded at very different times in each party, the same dynamics were on display in both cases.

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galvin@northwestern.edu
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1. Orren, Karen and Skowronek, Stephen, The Search for American Political Development (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 78119.

2. Clemens, Elisabeth S. and Cook, James M., “Politics and Institutionalism: Explaining Durability and Change,” Annual Review of Sociology 25 (1999): 441–66; Thelen, Kathleen, “Historical Institutionalism in Comparative Politics,” Annual Review of Political Science 2 (1999): 369404; Mahoney, James, “Path Dependence in Historical Sociology,” Theory and Society 29 (2000): 507–48; Sheingate, Adam D., “Political Entrepreneurship, Institutional Change, and American Political Development,” Studies in American Political Development 17 (2003): 185203; Hacker, Jacob S., “Privatizing Risk without Privatizing the Welfare State: The Hidden Politics of Social Policy Retrenchment in the United States,” American Political Science Review 98 (2004): 243–60; Orren and Skowronek, The Search for American Political Development; Pierson, Paul, Politics in Time: History, Institutions, and Social Analysis (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004); Streeck, Wolfgang and Thelen, Kathleen, Beyond Continuity: Institutional Change in Advanced Political Economies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005); Skowronek, Stephen and Glassman, Matthew, Formative Acts: American Politics in the Making (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007); Mahoney, James and Thelen, Kathleen, eds. Explaining Institutional Change: Ambiguity, Agency, and Power in Historical Institutionalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

3. Sheingate, “Political Entrepreneurship, Institutional Change, and American Political Development,” 185; Hall, Peter A., “Historical Institutionalism in Rationalist and Sociological Perspective,” in Explaining Institutional Change: Ambiguity, Agency, and Power in Historical Institutionalism, eds. Mahoney, James and Thelen, Kathleen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 204.

4. Streeck and Thelen, Beyond Continuity; Mahoney and Thelen, Explaining Institutional Change.

5. Formal theorist Kenneth Shepsle, for example, defines institutions as “a framework or rules, procedures, and arrangements” that “prescribes and constrains the set of choosing agents.” Shepsle, Kenneth A., “Institutional Equilibrium and Equilibrium Institutions,” in Political Science: The Science of Politics, ed. Weisberg, Herbert F. (New York: Agathon, 1986), 52. William Riker likewise defines institutions as “conventions . . . which are simply rules about behavior, especially about making decisions.” Riker, William H., “Implications from the Disequilibrium of Majority-Rule for the Study of Institutions,” American Political Science Review 74 (1980): 432–46. Economist Douglass C. North similarly writes that institutions are “the rules of the game in a society or, more formally, are the humanly devised constraints that shape human interaction.” North, Douglass C., Institutions, Institutional Change, and Economic Performance (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 3. Also see Weingast, Barry, “Rational Choice Institutionalism ” in Political Science, State of the Discipline: Reconsidering Power, Choice, and the State, eds. Katznelson, Ira and Milner, Helen V. (New York: Norton, 2002).

Prominent efforts to bridge research traditions include Hall, Peter and Taylor, Rosemary, “Political Science and the Three New Institutionalisms,” Political Studies 44 (1996); Thelen, “Historical Institutionalism in Comparative Politics”; Greif, Avner and Laitin, David D., “A Theory of Endogenous Institutional Change,” American Political Science Review 98 (2004): 633–52; Pierson, Politics in Time; Katznelson, Ira and Weingast, Barry R., Preferences and Situations: Points of Intersection between Historical and Rational Choice Institutionalism (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2005); Mahoney and Thelen, Explaining Institutional Change.

6. For a similar but broader definition of political institutions, see Orren and Skowronek, The Search for American Political Development, 83–85.

7. These political institutions therefore share certain characteristics with political organizations; but they are not, or not only, organizations. Because they help to enforce the “rules of the game,” and because changes to their operations often have far-reaching “ripple effects” across the political system, they are more properly understood as political institutions. They act in politics, but their operations are also constitutive of politics. North's distinction between the “players” in the game and the “game” itself, in other words, is difficult to sustain in the analysis of such political institutions (North, Institutions, Institutional Change, and Economic Performance, 4–5). The perspective advanced here thus bears closer kinship with March and Olsen's view of political institutions as autonomous “political actors” that pursue their own purposes but also help to “define the framework within which politics takes place.” March, James G. and Olsen, Johan P., Rediscovering Institutions (New York: The Free Press, Macmillan, Inc., 1989), 1718.

8. Consider, for example, prominent studies of rules within Congress, routines within bureaucracies, and roles within the judicial system: Schickler, Eric, Disjointed Pluralism: Institutional Innovation and the Development of the U.S. Congress (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001); Carpenter, Daniel P., The Forging of Bureaucratic Autonomy: Reputations, Networks, and Policy Innovation in Executive Agencies, 1862–1928 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001); Eisenstein, James and Jacob, Herbert, Felony Justice: An Organizational Analysis of Criminal Courts (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1991).

9. Orren and Skowronek, The Search for American Political Development, 82.

10. Pierson, Paul, “Increasing Returns, Path Dependence, and the Study of Politics,” American Political Science Review 94 (2000): 251–67; Mahoney, “Path Dependence in Historical Sociology”; Pierson, Politics in Time.

11. Pierson, Politics in Time, 50; Thelen, “Historical Institutionalism in Comparative Politics,” 385.

12. Pierson, Politics in Time, 12.

13. On institutional “conversion,” see Thelen, Kathleen, How Institutions Evolve: The Political Economy of Skills in Germany, Britain, the United States, and Japan (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004).

14. Sewell writes: “Agency . . . is the actor's capacity to reinterpret and mobilize an array of resources in terms of cultural schemas other than those that initially constituted the array.” Sewell, William H., “A Theory of Structure: Duality, Agency, and Transformation,” American Journal of Sociology 98 (1992): 19; Clemens and Cook, “Politics and Institutionalism: Explaining Durability and Change,” 445.

15. Cotter, Cornelius and Bibby, John F., “Institutional Development of Parties and the Thesis of Party Decline,” Political Science Quarterly 95 (1980): 127. Also see Herrnson, Paul S., Party Campaigning in the 1980s (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988); Frantzich, Stephen E., Political Parties in the Technological Age (New York: Longman, 1989); Goldman, Ralph Morris, The National Party Chairmen and Committees: Factionalism at the Top (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1990). On earlier changes in the national committees, see Cotter, Cornelius P. and Hennessy, Bernard C., Politics without Power: The National Party Committees (New York: Atherton Press, 1964); Bone, Hugh A., Party Committees and National Politics (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1958); Heard, Alexander, The Costs of Democracy (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1960).

16. Aldrich, John, Why Parties? The Origin and Transformation of Political Parties in America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995); see also Schlesinger, Joseph A., “The New American Political Party,” American Political Science Review 79 (1985): 1152–69; Schlesinger, Joseph A., Political Parties and the Winning of Office (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1991); Aldrich, John H. and Niemi, Richard G., “The Sixth American Party System: Electoral Change, 1952–1992,” in Broken Contract? Changing Relationships between Americans and Their Government, ed. Craig, Stephen C. (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, Inc., 1996).

17. Mahoney, James and Thelen, Kathleen, “A Theory of Gradual Institutional Change,” in Explaining Institutional Change: Ambiguity, Agency, and Power in Historical Institutionalism, eds. Mahoney, James and Thelen, Kathleen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 8.

18. Ibid., 14.

19. Slater, Dan, “Altering Authoitarianism: Institutional Complexity and Autocratic Agency in Indonesia,” in Explaining Institutional Change: Ambiguity, Agency, and Power in Historical Institutionalism, eds. Mahoney, James and Thelen, Kathleen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010); Frymer, Paul, Black and Blue: African Americans, the Labor Movement, and the Decline of the Democratic Party (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008); Thelen, Kathleen, “Institutions and Social Change: The Evolution of Vocational Training in Germany,” in Rethinking Political Institutions: The Art of the State, eds. Shapiro, Ian, Skowronek, Stephen, and Galvin, Daniel (New York: New York University Press, 2006); Carpenter, Daniel P. and Moore, Colin D., “Robust Action and the Strategic Use of Ambiguity in a Bureaucratic Cohort: FDA Officers and the Evolution of New Drug Regulations, 1950-1970,” in Formative Acts: American Politics in the Making, eds. Skowronek, Stephen and Glassman, Matthew (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007); Carpenter, Daniel P., Reputation and Power: Organizational Image and Pharmaceutical Regulation at the FDA (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010); Eric Lomazoff, “Turning (into) ‘the Great Regulating Wheel’: The Conversion of the Bank of the United States, 1791–1811,” Studies in American Political Development (forthcoming).

20. Mahoney and Thelen, “A Theory of Gradual Institutional Change,” 3. Eyes-open searches for mechanisms of endogenous change are also advocated in Thelen, “Historical Institutionalism in Comparative Politics”; Thelen, How Institutions Evolve; Mahoney, James, The Legacies of Liberalism: Path Dependence and Political Regimes in Central America (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001); Pierson, Politics in Time; and Streeck and Thelen, Beyond Continuity.

21. The imagery of abrasion borrows from Orren, Karen and Skowronek, Stephen, “Beyond the Iconography of Order: Notes for a ‘New Institutionalism',” in The Dynamics of American Politics: Approaches and Interpretations, eds. Dodd, Lawrence C. and Jillson, Calvin (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1994), 321; Orren and Skowronek, The Search for American Political Development, 113–14.

22. Katznelson, Ira and Weingast, Barry R., “Intersections between Historical and Rational Choice Institutionalism,” in Preferences and Situations: Points of Intersection between Historical and Rational Choice Institutionalism, eds. Katznelson, Ira and Weingast, Barry R. (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2005), 15.

23. March and Olsen, Rediscovering Institutions, 59, italics added.

24. Clemens and Cook, “Politics and Institutionalism: Explaining Durability and Change,” 449–50.

25. Ibid., 448–49; March and Olsen, Rediscovering Institutions; Sewell, “A Theory of Structure: Duality, Agency, and Transformation.” See also Pierson, Politics in Time.

26. This is the conventional definition drawn from the Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford University Press): http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/resource?q=resources.

27. Giddens, Anthony, The Constitution of Society: Introduction of the Theory of Structuration (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984); Sewell, “A Theory of Structure: Duality, Agency, and Transformation”; Clemens and Cook, “Politics and Institutionalism: Explaining Durability and Change.”

28. Public policies, for example, are sometimes considered political institutions because they promulgate rules that govern behavior. But they do not contain internal resources of the sort examined here: they change through different mechanisms and processes. Likewise, Orren and Skowronek's definition of political institutions includes “extensions of governmental authority deep into society, into the institution of the family, for instance . . . and to workplaces,” as well as “the institution of lobbying” (2004, 84). Such political institutions, likewise, fall outside the purview of this analysis. Which is as it should be: different types of political institutions should be expected to exhibit different mechanisms of endogenous institutional change. The task at hand is to identify which mechanisms are more or less prevalent among different subsets of institutions and examine their significance. On public policies as institutions, see Pierson, Paul, “Public Policies as Institutions,” in Rethinking Political Institutions: The Art of the State, eds. Shapiro, Ian, Skowronek, Stephen, and Galvin, Daniel (New York: New York University Press, 2006).

29. For a similar theory of “political investment,” see Teles, Steven M., “Transformative Bureaucracy: Reagan's Lawyers and the Dynamics of Political Investment,” Studies in American Political Development 23 (2009): 6183; Teles, Steven M., The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement: The Battle for Control of the Law (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008).

30. Skowronek, Stephen, Building a New American State: The Expansion of National Administrative Capacities, 1877–1920 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 212–47.

31. Ward, Artemus and Weiden, David L., Sorcerers' Apprentices: 100 Years of Law Clerks at the United States Supreme Court (New York: New York University Press, 2006).

32. Carpenter, The Forging of Bureaucratic Autonomy, 316–17.

33. Lax, Jeffrey R. and Phillips, Justin H., “The Democratic Deficit in the States,” American Journal of Political Science 56 (2012), doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2011.00537.x.

34. Cox, Gary W. and McCubbins, Mathew D., Legislative Leviathan: Party Government in the House (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993); Cox, Gary W. and McCubbins, Mathew D., Setting the Agenda: Responsible Party Government in the U.S. House of Representatives (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005); Rohde, David W., Parties and Leaders in the Postreform House (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991); Aldrich, John H. and Rohde, David W., “The Consequences of Party Organization in the House: The Role of Majority and Minority Parties in Conditional Party Government,” in Polarized Politcs: Congress and the President in a Partisan Era, eds. Bond, Jon and Fleischer, Richard (Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2000).

35. Glassman, Matthew, “Congressional Leadership: A Resource Perspective,” in Party and Procedure in the United States Congress, ed. Straus, Jacob (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2012).

36. Ibid., 18.

37. Joyce, Philip G., The Congressional Budget Office: Honest Numbers, Power, and Policymaking (Washington DC: Georgetown University Press, 2011).

38. Joyce notes that it also serves a democratic function of providing citizens with a credible source of information about proposed public policies and their likely effects.

39. For further commentary along these lines, see Matthew Glassman, “Whigging Out,” November 30, 2011, http://www.mattglassman.com/?p=1970.

40. Teles, “Transformative Bureaucracy: Reagan's Lawyers and the Dynamics of Political Investment”; see also Teles, The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement: The Battle for Control of the Law.

41. Teles, “Transformative Bureaucracy,” 63, 67, 69.

42. Ibid., 71, 69.

43. Glassman, “Congressional Leadership: A Resource Perspective,” 27. Even the establishment of the CBO was associated with electoral dynamics; the proximate cause, of course, was the struggle for authority between the Nixon administration and congressional Democrats over federal spending, the impoundment power, and inter-branch relations. But the Budget and Impoundment Act represented more than a reaction against executive aggrandizement: majority Democrats, Eric Schickler writes, also “feared that they would be blamed for Congress's lack of a fiscal policy” in the 1974 elections. Institutional reform was thus pushed as a “common carrier” for multiple interests. Schickler, Disjointed Pluralism: Institutional Innovation and the Development of the U.S. Congress, 196, 191.

44. Teles, “Transformative Bureaucracy: Reagan's Lawyers and the Dynamics of Political Investment,” 65.

45. Ibid., 62.

46. Lowi, Theodore, “Toward Functionalism in Political Science: The Case of Innovation in Party Systems,” American Political Science Review 57 (1963): 575, italics removed.

47. Schattschneider, E. E., The Semi-Sovereign People: A Realist's View of Democracy in America (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1960); Downs, Anthony, An Economic Theory of Democracy (New York: Harper, 1957); Riker, William H., The Theory of Political Coalitions (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1962); Dahl, Robert A., ed., Political Oppositions in Western Democracies (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1966); Mayhew, David R., Congress: The Electoral Connection (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1974); Shefter, Martin, Political Parties and the State (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994).

48. Cotter and Bibby, “Institutional Development of Parties and the Thesis of Party Decline”; Kayden, Xandra and Mahe, Eddie, The Party Goes On: The Persistence of the Two-Party System in the United States (New York: Basic Books, 1985); Epstein, Leon D., Political Parties in the American Mold (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1986); Herrnson, Party Campaigning in the 1980s; Frantzich, Political Parties in the Technological Age; Aldrich, Why Parties?; Green, John Clifford and Shea, Daniel M., The State of the Parties: The Changing Role of Contemporary American Parties (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999); Shea, Daniel M., “The Passing of Realignment and the Advent of the 'Base-Less' Party System,” American Politics Quarterly 27 (1999); Menefee-Libey, David, The Triumph of Campaign-Centered Politics (New York: Chatham House Publishers, Seven Bridges Press, LLC, 1999); Milkis, Sidney M., Political Parties and Constitutional Government (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999); Herrnson, Paul S., “National Party Organizations at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century,” in The Parties Respond: Changes in the American Parties and Campaigns, ed. Maisel, L. Sandy (Boulder, CO: Westview, 2002); Green, John C. and Herrnson, Paul S., Responsible Partisanship?: The Evolution of American Political Parties since 1950 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2002); Bibby, John F., “State Party Organizations: Strengthened and Adapting to Candidate-Centered Politics and Nationalization,” in The Parties Respond: Changes in the American Party System, ed. Maisel, Louis Sandy (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2002).

49. This article seeks to clarify the process through which the functions of the national committees changed, gradually displacing them from their more central position in the broader party network. On informal party networks, see Kathleen Bawn et al., “A Theory of Political Parties,” paper presented at American Political Science Association Annual Meeting, 2006; Cohen, Marty, Karol, David, Noel, Hans, and Zaller, John, The Party Decides: Presidential Nominations before and after Reform (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008); Koger, Gregory, Masket, Seth, and Noel, Hans, “Partisan Webs: Information Exchange and Party Networks,” British Journal of Political Science 39 (2009): 633–53; Masket, Seth E., No Middle Ground: How Informal Party Organizations Control Nominations and Polarize Legislatures (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2009); Bernstein, Jonathan J. and Dominguez, Casey B. K., “Candidates and Candidacies in the Expanded Party,” PS: Political Science & Politics 36 (2003): 165–69.

50. Aldrich, Why Parties?; Schlesinger, Political Parties and the Winning of Office. On “congealed tastes,” see Riker, “Implications from the Disequilibrium of Majority-Rule for the Study of Institutions.”

51. Aldrich, Why Parties?, 19.

52. Ibid., 26.

53. “Actor-centered functionalism” is a term coined by Paul Pierson, Politics in Time, 104.

54. Aldrich, Why Parties?, 261–62.

55. Ibid., 262–63. See also Aldrich and Niemi, “The Sixth American Party System,” and Schlesinger, Political Parties and the Winning of Office, 187–99; Schlesinger, “The New American Political Party.”

56. Aldrich, Why Parties?, 286.

57. Ibid., 263. Italics in original.

58. Ibid., 269.

59. Schlesinger writes: “The character of the organization, how it is arranged, what (if any) lines of authority it has, how disciplined it is, how much division of labor exists, is not part of the Downsian definition of party. These omissions are essential if the definition of party is to be flexible enough to understand changes in the party's form.” It should come as no surprise, then, that the conclusion he reaches is that the parties' institutional arrangements do not matter in how they change. Schlesinger, Political Parties and the Winning of Office, 7.

60. Aldrich, Why Parties?, 284.

61. Ibid., 295.

62. “Breakdown and replacement” is from Thelen, How Institutions Evolve, 30.

63. Similarly, Frank Sorauf writes: “A meaningful approach to political parties must be concerned with parties as organizations or structures performing activities, processes, roles, or functions . . . The logical intellectual and analytical point of reference is the party as a structure. Activity (or function) is certainly important, but one must begin by knowing who or what is acting.” Sorauf, Frank J., “Political Parties and Political Analysis,” in The American Party Systems: Stages of Political Development, ed. Chambers, William Nisbet and Burnham, Walter Dean (New York: Oxford University Press, 1975), 38.

64. Cotter and Bibby, “Institutional Development of Parties and the Thesis of Party Decline”; Cotter and Hennessy, Politics without Power: The National Party Committees; Goldman, The National Party Chairmen and Committees: Factionalism at the Top; Klinkner, Philip A., The Losing Parties: Out-Party National Committees, 1956-1993 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1994).

65. Why not sooner? We cannot know for certain, but according to the New York Times, “Between 1932 and 1936 the Republican leaders still had hopes and many of them, by November of last year, had by a species of self-hypnosis convinced themselves that the party would squeak through and beat Roosevelt. The overwhelming New Deal victory [in 1936] dispelled all illusions and today the party's leaders, in and out of Washington, are wondering and discussing among themselves what the next step shall be.” See Delbert Clark, “The Republicans Face a Great Decision,” New York Times, June 20, 1937.

66. Associated Press, “Hamilton Puts ‘Revitalization’ of Party First,” Washington Post, November 10, 1936.

67. Lamb, Karl A., “John Hamilton and the Revitalization of the Republican Party, 1936–40,” in Papers of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters, ed. Baker, Sheridan (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1960).

68. Ibid., 240.

69. Edward T. Folliard, “Eyes on 1940, G.O.P. Expands Its National Headquarters,” Washington Post, June 25, 1939.

70. “G.O.P. 'Brain Trust' Busy: Wide Range of Studies,” New York Times, December 17, 1939.

71. Their records are well organized and publicly accessible via the Republican National Committee Collection, Boxes 642-718, Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, Abilene, Kansas.

72. “G.O.P. ‘Brain Trust' Busy: Wide Range of Studies.”

73. “G.O.P. Book Charges Roosevelt Broke Vows,” Los Angeles Times, September 17, 1938; see also, for example, “G.O.P. Paper Guides Party Workers,” New York Times, October 2, 1938.

74. Thomson, C.A.H., “Research and the Republican Party,” Public Opinion Quarterly 3 (1939): 306–13.

75. Ketchum, Carlton G., “Political Financing, 1937 Model,” Public Opinion Quarterly 2 (1938): 136–37.

76. Heard, The Costs of Democracy, 257, 217; Lamb, “John Hamilton and the Revitalization of the Republican Party, 1936–40,” 239.

77. Ibid., 223.

78. Aldrich, Why Parties?.

79. Heard, The Costs of Democracy, 257n65.

80. Kenneally, James J., A Compassionate Conservative: A Political Biography of Joseph W. Martin, Jr. (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2003), 7783.

81. “Floyd E. McCaffree, C.W. Post Professor,” New York Times, June 3, 1963.

82. Kessel, John H., Presidential Campaign Politics: Coalition Strategies and Citizen Response (Homewood, IL: Dorsey Press, 1980).

83. Bone, Party Committees and National Politics, 84; also see Heard, The Costs of Democracy.

84. Bone, Party Committees and National Politics, 39; Goldman, The National Party Chairmen and Committees: Factionalism at the Top, 488.

85. James Hagerty, “Republicans Set 4-Year Campaign,” New York Times, January 23, 1945; Goldman, The National Party Chairmen and Committees: Factionalism at the Top, 487–88.

86. Goldman, The National Party Chairmen and Committees: Factionalism at the Top, 499; Clayton Knowles, “G.O.P. To Teach ‘Winning Politics',” New York Times, December 20, 1949; Robert W. Ruth, “G.O.P. School of Politics a Woman-Power Project: And That Old Republican ‘Mutual Admiration Society',” The Sun, April 15, 1950; “G.O.P. Graduates 25 in School of Politics,” New York Times, May 4, 1950.

87. James Reston, “Revitalized G.O.P. In Scientific Drive,” New York Times, November 1, 1950; “School of Politics,” The Washington Post, October 21, 1951.

88. Ketcham, Ralph, Presidents above Party (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1987).

89. Galvin, Daniel J., Presidential Party Building: Dwight D. Eisenhower to George W. Bush (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010); also see Cotter, Cornelius P., “Eisenhower as Party Leader,” Political Science Quarterly 98 (1983): 255–83; Wagner, Steven, Eisenhower Republicanism: Pursuing the Middle Way (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2006).

90. Galvin, Presidential Party Building, 46–48.

91. For example, Lee Atwater, Ed Gillespie, and Karl Rove, among many others. Brady, John Joseph, Bad Boy: The Life and Politics of Lee Atwater (Reading, PA: Addison-Wesley, 1997); Gillespie, Edward, Winning Right: Campaign Politics and Conservative Policies (New York: Threshold Editions, 2006); Rove, Karl, Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight (New York: Threshold Editions, 2010).

92. Bibby, John F., “Party Leadership, the Bliss Model, and the Development of the Republican National Committee,” in Politics, Professionalism, and Power: Modern Party Organization and the Legacy of Ray C. Bliss, ed. Green, John C. (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, Inc., 1994), 2728. Also see Bibby, John F. and Huckshorn, Robert J., “Out-Party Strategy: Republican National Committee Rebuilding Politics, 1964-1968,” in Republican Politics: The 1964 Campaign and Its Aftermath for the Party, eds. Cosman, Bernard and Huckshorn, Robert J. (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1968).

93. Galvin, Presidential Party Building, 106–7.

94. Conway, M. Margaret, “Republican Political Party Nationalization, Campaign Activities, and Their Implications for the Party System,” Publius 13, (Winter, 1983): 117; Galvin, Presidential Party Building, 124–25; Klinkner, The Losing Parties, ch. 7.

95. Republican National Committee (RNC), “Chairman's Report” (Washington, DC: Republican National Committee, 1993); Ken Mehlman, “Special Elections Confirm the Importance of Grassroots Turnout” (Washington, DC: Republican National Committee Press Release, 2005); Richard N. Bond, “Personal Interview” (Washington, DC: 2007).

96. “GOP Conspiracy,” The Washington Post, September 19, 1945; Cabell Phillips, “Both Parties Pin Hope on Farm Vote in 1950,” New York Times, June 26, 1949; “Truman's Weekend Relaxation,” The Washington Post, March 15, 1951; “Republicans Hold '48 Pledges Unkept,” New York Times, March 7, 1949.

97. Holmes, Alexander, “Getting into Grass Roots with GOP's Ex-Infielder,” Los Angeles Times, December 4, 1950.

98. “G.O.P. Women Show Fund-Raising Zest,” New York Times, June 1, 1952.

99. “Women's Group For GOP Sets For Fund Raising,” Atlanta Daily World, November 8, 1955; Goodhue, Norma H., “GOP Fund Drive Launched in State,” Los Angeles Times, April 27, 1956.

100. Galvin, Presidential Party Building, 49.

101. Klinkner, The Losing Parties, 61; Cotter and Hennessy, Politics without Power: The National Party Committees, 185–86.

102. Cotter and Hennessy, Politics without Power, 185–86.

103. Klinkner, The Losing Parties, 80.

104. Bone, Party Committees and National Politics, 116, italics added.

105. Freeman, Jo, “The Political Culture of the Democratic and Republican Parties,” Political Science Quarterly 101 (1986): 327–56; Klinkner, The Losing Parties; Witcover, Jules, Party of the People: A History of the Democrats (New York: Random House, 2003); Miroff, Bruce, The Liberals' Moment: The McGovern Insurgency and the Identity Crisis of the Democratic Party (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2007).

106. Bai, Matt, The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics (New York: Penguin Press, 2007); Berman, Ari, Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010).

107. Greenstone, J. David, Labor in American Politics (New York: Knopf, 1969); Dark, Taylor E., The Unions and the Democrats: An Enduring Alliance (Ithaca, NY: ILR Press, 1999); Mayhew, David R., Placing Parties in American Politics: Organization, Electoral Settings, and Government Activity in the Twentieth Century (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986); Fisher, Dana, Activism, Inc. (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006).

108. Alexander, Herbert E., Financing the 1960 Election (Princeton, NJ: Citizens' Research Foundation, 1962), 77; Hennessy, Bernard, “Dollars for Democrats, 1959,” in Cases on Party Organization, ed. Tillett, Paul (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1963).

109. Galvin, Presidential Party Building; Klinkner, The Losing Parties.

110. “Can the DNC Adjust to Being a Minority?” National Journal, September 5, 1981; “Democratic Party Takes Some Strides Down the Long Comeback Trail,” National Journal, October 8, 1983.

111. “Democratic Party Takes Some Strides Down the Long Comeback Trail;” “A Tale of Two Parties,” National Journal, January 21, 1984.

112. Klinkner, The Losing Parties, 181.

113. Ibid., 182.

114. See, for example, Cook, Rhodes, “Kirk Leaves, Floodgates Open,” CQ Weekly Report, December 10, 1988.

115. Adam Clymer, “Democrats: New Views,” New York Times, September 24, 1981; “Can the DNC Adjust to Being a Minority?”

116. “Democratic Party Takes Some Strides Down the Long Comeback Trail.”

117. Klinkner, The Losing Parties, 182.

118. Galvin, Presidential Party Building; Galvin, Daniel J., “Changing Course: Reversing the Organizational Trajectory of the Democratic Party from Bill Clinton to Barack Obama,” The Forum 6 (2008).

119. Electoral incentives clearly played a role in changing the Democrats' mentality. For example, after many years of running disparate, largely uncoordinated campaigns, the heterogeneous Democratic coalition finally began to come together to develop cooperative campaign plans. According to DNC Chairman Joe Andrew, this was a direct result of the changed electoral context: “We didn't have all these guys around a table—for example organized labor—to do something for years. Literally, it wasn't because of me, I did nothing. I just invited them all to come to talk. They did it because of the fact that they were so concerned that we weren't going to win! There was no secret sauce here . . . People were willing to come together and talk and coordinate the way they had not been, because—what choice did they have?” Personal Interview with Joe Andrew, June 26, 2007, Washington, DC.

120. “America 2000,” Washington, DC: Democratic National Committee, 1999.

121. Ibid.

122. McAuliffe, Terry and Kettmann, Steve, What a Party!: My Life among Democrats (New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2007).

123. Reich, Brian, “Please Standby . . . The DNC Is Still Experiencing Technical Difficulties,” Personal Democracy Forum, April 18, 2005.

124. Jamieson, Kathleen Hall, Electing the President 2008: The Insiders' View (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009), 42, 155–57; “DNC Launches McCain Ad and New National Field Organizing Effort,” (Washington, DC: Democratic National Committee Press Release, 2008).

125. “A 50-State Strategy,” Washington, DC: Democratic National Committee, 2006, http://www.democrats.org/about/fifty_state_strategy; Kamarck, Elaine C., “Assessing Howard Dean's Fifty State Strategy and the 2006 Midterm Elections,” The Forum 4 (2006); Sam Stein, “Obama and Dean Team up to Recast the Political Map,” Huffington Post, June 5, 2008; Berman, Herding Donkeys.

126. Matt Bai, “The inside Agitator,” New York Times Magazine, October 1, 2006; Jamieson, Electing the President 2008: The Insiders' View.

127. As incoming DNC Chairman Tim Kaine promised to do. See Tim Kaine, “Tim Kaine Answers Questions About Future of Party,” 2009, http://www.democrats.org/page/invite/questionsvideo.

128. Ari Melber, “Year One of Organizing for America: The Permanent Field Campaign in a Digital Age,” A techPresident Special Report, January, 2010, http://www.techpresident.com/files/report_Year_One_of_Organizing_for_America_Melber.pdf; Berman, Herding Donkeys.

129. Milkis, Sidney M. and Rhodes, Jesse H., “Barack Obama, the Democratic Party, and the Future of the ‘New American Party System',” The Forum 7 (2009); Sidney M. Milkis and Jesse H. Rhodes, “Barack Obama, the Democratic Party, and the Evolution of the American Party System,” paper presented at Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, 2010, in Washington, DC.

130. Nancy Scola, “The New ‘Raise Your Vote': OFA's Design to Turn out Mid-Term Voters,” TechPresident.com, June 17, 2010; Nancy Scola, “Dems Release Voter Reg Widget,” TechPresident.com, July 14, 2010.

The author gratefully acknowledges helpful comments and suggestions on the latest version from Elisabeth Clemens, Matthew Glassman, Katherine Glassmyer, Scott James, Stephen Skowronek, and two anonymous reviewers. For constructive comments on earlier versions, he thanks Julia Azari, Stephen Engel, Edward Gibson, Matthew Green, Laurel Harbridge, Paul Herrnson, Kenneth Janda, James Mahoney, Robert Mickey, Sidney Milkis, Hans Noel, Mildred Schwartz, Byron Shafer, Colleen Shogan, Kathleen Thelen, and participants at the Institute for Policy Research and Comparative Historical Social Science colloquia at Northwestern University, the American Bar Foundation, and the Miller Center of Public Affairs.

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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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