No Middle Ground
How Informal Party Organizations Control Nominations and Polarize Legislatures
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: University of Michigan Press
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Introduction: Extreme Partisanship
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In the summer of 2003, as California’s state legislators attempted to close a $38 billion deficit in a $100 billion budget, the parties stayed about as ideologically distant from each other as possible. Democrats wanted only modest cuts in services, but higher income taxes on the wealthy, a tripling of the car registration...
Chapter 1 The Modern Political Party
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For decades after its 1974 publication, David Mayhew’s Congress: The Electoral Connection was considered the premier text for anyone wishing to understand how members of Congress behaved. The description was not a pretty one for anyone who believed in the value of party government...
Chapter 2 The True Character of Politicians
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Character, it is said, is how one behaves when nobody is looking. What, then, is the character of a politician? Moral implications aside, we may use this line of thought to inquire about the nature of partisanship among politicians. Are legislators natural...
Chapter 3 150 Years of Legislative Party Behavior
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The previous chapter largely focused on California’s political history in the 1950s, noting changes in voter and legislative behavior in response to the insertion of party labels on the primary ballot and the banning of cross-filing. This analysis painted a picture of politicians as nonideological reelection...
Chapter 4 A Visit to the Smoke-Filled Room
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An old joke tells of a drunk who looks for his lost car keys under a lamppost because that’s where the light is best. Political scientists are commonly criticized for this sort of “drunkard’s search.” They are accused, that is, of using the most convenient forms of data to test their theories, even if such data miss much...
Chapter 5 Measuring the Power of Informal Party Organizations
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The qualitative evidence presented in the last chapter suggested that various political actors bond together to form informal party organizations, controlling nominations and exerting influence over the governing process. Ultimately, however, that conclusion is based upon the statements of individuals with their own agendas. It is one thing to show that these organizations exist...
Conclusion: The Price and Payoff of Parties
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The preceding chapters have covered more than 150 years of political history utilizing a variety of research methods, from qualitative interviews to complex statistical analyses. Before concluding, it is worth asking what exactly we have learned from this multifaceted view of California’s political...
List of Interviews
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Page Count: 240
Illustrations: 11 Tables, 19 Figures
Publication Year: 2009