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From the Dixiecrat Party to the Tea Party: The Civil Rights Movement, Polarization, and the 2012 Elections

John Aldrich Duke University for presentation at Duke University August 7, 2012

Understanding American Politics Today
? To understand American politics today, we need to understand: ? First, the basis of democracy and its adaption in the US ? Second, we need to understand national politics at the end of WWII ? Third, we need to understand how and why the most important change in national politics in the US – partisan polarization – came about ? Fourth, we can then understand the US’ current circumstances of polarized and paralyzed politics ? Finally, we can wonder whether the founder’s dream can once again flourish as effective democracy in America.

Democratic Theory
? Western liberal democracy has two basic propositions ? First, the citizen is sovereign (“all power flows directly or indirectly from the great body of the people”) and elections are the usual way in which the public decides who they want to lend power to for the next period (“limited duration”). ? Second, the most important way to limit the ability of those holding office from abusing power is to make them compete for office (ambition – the desire for the preferment of office – is the primary mechanism by which officeholders remain responsive to the wishes of the public)

American democratic theory
? The Founding Fathers added a particular twist to democratic theory in general ? We rebelled against the tyranny of the King of England ? The perceived problem was the gathering of all powers into a single set of hands, that of the King ? To solve that we constructed a government with separated but intermingled powers, called the system of checks and balances, so that “ambition would be made to compete against ambition.” ? Thus, we divided powers “horizontally” in the three branches and two legislative chambers, and we divided powers “vertically” between nation, state, and locale.

US compared to UK
? US: Separate election of President, of House and of Senate ? UK: Election only of Member of Parliament, executive elected from within Parliament ? US: House and Senate have essentially equal powers ? UK: House of Commons dominant, House of Lords peripheral. ? US: Separate and independent judiciary ? UK: Supreme court analogue limited and is the Lords

? US: Strong federalism ? UK: No to, now, limited federalism
? US: Written constitution with Bill of Rights ? UK: “Interpreted” constitution with more limited rights and liberties

Prologue, 1958-59

1958-59
This time turns out to have been critical in several ways:

1. In the 1958 Election and the resultant Government, taking office in 1959, for the average northern Democratic officeholder:
– Looking back, the GOP won 2/3rds of the presidential elections and1/3rd of the House and Senate elections since WWII. – Looking forward, the GOP was expected (and was) favored to win the White House in 1960 under Nixon – Democrats were favored to win this year, the 6th of Ike’s presidency and a recession year – This is therefore their big chance, and it worked. – Dems added 49 seats in the House (holding 283 seats) and gained an amazing 16 seats in the Senate (65 seats) – It turned out to set a new direction in which the northern Democrats were to begin to take charge of House (Rohde) and set the stage for the civil rights issue evolution (Carmines, Stimson)

1958-59, slide 2
This time turns out to have been critical in several other ways: ? For the Average White, that is the median, voter:
– A dramatic increase in liberalism on issues, building on the gains made toward a more liberal public in 1956, for the largest two election gain yet recorded:

? That is, the median voter shifted substantially to the left in time for 1958.

1958-59, slide 3
This time turns out to have been critical in a couple more ways: ? For the Average Black:
– the Civil Rights Movement is getting serious (but ‘58-’59 is a bit of a hiatus, between Little Rock mostly in 1957 and Greensboro and other sit ins in 1960).

? Finally, for the Average (pre-)teen ager:
– It is the day the music died: Elvis is drafted (‘58); Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, the Big Bopper died in a plane crash – the actual day the music died (‘59); Jerry Lee Lewis married his 14 year old cousin (1958); Chuck Berry was arrested for stautory rape (1959) Little Richard decided to become a minister (1957), and Alan Freed is accused of payola (1959).
Rock 'n' roll is really swing with a modern name. It began on the levees and plantations, took in folk songs, and features blues and rhythm. It's the rhythm that gets to the kids — they're starved of music they can dance to, after all those years of crooners.

The “Integrated” Complex of Institutional and Social Changes with respect to African-Americans, 1877-1964

Three Interrelated Changes in American Politics, WWII to 2012
? The End of the Jim Crow South and the Civil Rights Movement and Voting and Civil Rights Acts
– – – – Jim Crow – 1898 to 1965 Gov’t moves: FDR 1938, Truman, Humphrey and the Dixiecrats, 1948 The Movement – 1956-1965 Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts – 1964, 1965

? The Creation of a Competitive Two-Party South and the coming of a Republican Majority there and the “Southernization” of the National Republican Party
– Southern Strategy, 1968 – Republican Majority, 1994, 1996 – Southern Leaders of the National Republican Party, 1994

? Partisan Polarization – 1958-2012 and counting

Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896

Wilmington, 1898

Divisions within the Democratic Party, 1948

Harry S. Truman Exec. Order 7/26/48

Gov. Thurmond (SC), Gov. Wright (MS) Dixiecrat campaign slogan: “Segregation Forever!”

Hubert Humphrey 1948 Convention Speech

The Civil Rights Movement

? ? ? ? ? ?

Brown v. Board, 1954 Emmett Till, 1955 Rosa Parks and Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955-56 Little Rock, 1957-58 Freedom Riders (1961) and on Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, 1964 and 1965

Brown v. Board, 1954

Brown v. Board, 1954
Linda Brown Warren Court James Nabrit Jr., Thurgood Marshall, George E.C. Hayes

Oliver Brown and family

John Lewis after beating, at March on Washington and in Congress

Emmett Till, his Open Casket, and Mamie Till Bradley, his mother (1955)

Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955

Little Rock High School, 1957

Freedom Riders Alabama, Mother’s Day, 1961

March, Selma to Montgomery Near Edmund Pettis Bridge, March 7, 1965

Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts

Sen. Richard Russell gets the Johnson Treatment

Creation of a Two-Party South and Partisan Polarization in post-WWII America

What Polarization Looks Like:
? ? ? ? Elite – Congress, sorting and diverging toward extremes Public Perceptions Activists Is the Public polarized?

Sorting by Party in Congress
Liberal-Conservative Voting Records, 1969-70
50 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0
44
43

41 38
37 32 30

Number of Members

38

28
26 19 16 14

Democrats

Republicans
12

6 3 1

7

7

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Decile

Sorting by Party in Congress

Liberal Conservative Voting Records, 1997-98
50 45
44 44 44 44 44 44 44 44 45

Number of Members

40
35

35 30 25 20
15
10

Democrats Republicans

10 5 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 Decile 7 8 9 10

Liberal-Conservative Voting Records, 1969-70
50 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0
44
43

41 38
37 32 30

Sorting by Party in Congress
38

Number of Members

28
26 19 16 14

Democrats

Republicans
12

6 3 1

7

7

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Decile

Liberal Conservative Voting Records, 1997-98
50 45
44 44 44 44 44 44 44 44 45

Number of Members

40
35

35 30 25 20
15
10

Democrats Republicans

10 5 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 Decile 7 8 9 10

Relative differentiation between the two parties 0.00 0.20 0.40 0.80 1.00 1.20 1.40

0.60

Divergence by Party in Congress: Polarization in the U.S. House and Senate, 1910-2010

House Year Congress opened Senate

1909 1911 1913 1915 1917 1919 1921 1923 1925 1927 1929 1931 1933 1935 1937 1939 1941 1943 1945 1947 1949 1951 1953 1955 1957 1959 1961 1963 1965 1967 1969 1971 1973 1975 1977 1979 1981 1983 1985 1987 1989 1991 1993 1995 1997 1999 2001 2003 2005 2007 2009

The Public Perceives Partisan Polarization, 1968-2008

This what the beginning and end points of the last figure look like.

Figure 6.5 Polarization of partisan identifiers and party activists, 1972-2008
4

Showing both sorting and divergence
3.5

Difference on 7-point Liberal-Conservative Scale

3

2.5

2

1.5

1

0.5

0

1972

1976

1980

1984

1988

1992

1996

2000

2004

Year Party Activists Presidential Donors Party Identifiers

2008

Average difference between the Two Parties 0.00 1968 1970 1972 1974 0.20 0.40 0.60 0.80 1.00 1.20 1.40 1.60 1.80

1976
1978 1980 1982 1984

1986
Year 1988 1990 1992 1994

1996
1998 2000 2002 2004

Polarization of the Congress and of Public Evaluations, 1968-2008

2006
2008

Public

House

Senate

Where Polarization Comes from Where the Tea Party Comes from

Why the South is the primary driver

The South is a Major Part of the Democratic Congress

? The Democrats dominated in the Congress and the nation
– They became the majority party circa 1932 (for the first time since before the civil war) – In the post-WWII period, they held the U.S. House all but 4 years from 1945-1995 – And, they had the longest unbroken streak of 40 years in history (19551995) – In the post WWII period, they held the U.S. Senate all but 10 years from 1945-1995.

The South is a Major Part of the Democratic Congress
? ? The Democrats dominated in the Congress, 1954-1994. And, the Southern Democrats were a very large part of the Democratic majority, because they truly dominated in the South:

The South is a Major Part of the Democratic Congress

? The Democrats dominated the Congress:
? Southern Democrats were a very large part of the Democratic contingent: ? And they had an exit option: the Conservative Coalition (southern Dems and Republicans voting against northern Dems).

Figure 7.2 Party unity and conservative coalition votes, U.S. House, 1953 - 1997
100 90 80 70 Percent of Roll Call Votes 60 50 40 30 20 10 0

1971

1955

1957

1959

1961

1963

1965

1967

1969

1973

1975

1977

1979

1981

1983

1985

1987

1989

1991

1993

1995

Congress
Conservative Coalition Party Votes

1997

The South is a Major Part of the Democratic Congress

? The Democrats dominated the South:
? Southern Democrats were a very large part of the Democratic contingent: ? They had an exit option. ? And, they differentiated themselves from the majority party regularly.

Percent Vote for Party on Party Votes 30 40 60 70 80

100

10

20

90

50

0 1954 1956 1958 1960 1962 1964 1966 1968 1970 1972 All Dem 1974 1976

1978
1980 1982

Figure 7.4 Party unity scores, U.S. Senate, 1954-2007

South Dem 1984 1986 1988 1990 Rep 1992 1994 1996 1998

2000
2002 2004 2006

The South is a Major Part of the Democratic Congress

? The Democrats dominated the South:
? Southern Democrats were a very large part of the Democratic contingent: ? They had an exit option. ? They differentiated themselves from the majority party. ? And they did so in the face of new-found competition in their districts.

The GOP and the Tea Party
The Tea Party is three things, relevant to here: ? First, it was a public expression of frustration

The GOP and the Tea Party
The Tea Party is three things, relevant to here: ? First, it was a public expression of frustration

? Second, it was taken over quickly by the most right-wing leadership of the actual GOP and then assimilated quickly into the actual GOP itself

The GOP and the Tea Party
The Tea Party is three things, relevant to here: ? First, it was a public expression of frustration ? Second, it was assimilated into the GOP quickly. ? Third, it turns out that it really was both an economic movement and a broad, nation wide, that is to say nonsouthern dominated movement and organized, part of the Republican Party

The GOP and the Tea Party
The Tea Party is three things, relevant to here: ? First, it was a public expression of frustration ? Second, it was assimilated into the GOP quickly. ? Third, it really was not a southern dominated movement. ? Item: GOP leadership 1955 – 0 of 10 (House and Senate) GOP leadership 1995 – 7 of 10 GOP leadership 2011 – 3 of 10

Tea Party: National and Economic

Tea Party Tax Day events

Coverage of Tea Party in local media

The GOP and the Tea Party
The Tea Party is three things, relevant to here: ? First, it was a public expression of frustration ? Second, it was assimilated into the GOP quickly. ? Third, it turns out that it really was both an economic movement and a broad, nation wide, that is to say nonsouthern dominated movement and organized, part of the Republican Party

? Fourth, as a result, it has led, in 2012 at least, to a focus on economic rather than social issues.

A Note on 2010
? Our (Aldrich, Bishop, Hatch, Hillygus, Rohde) data show that 2010 had two major features that turned what might have been a regularly slightly GOP year into a rout.
– 1. High turnout among those who approved of the Tea Party, above expectations, and overtaking Blacks, Latinos, and youth voting from 2008.

– 2. High Republican vote among moderates, independents, and weaker Democrats who blamed Bush or banks/Wall Street for the economic collapse (about 2 in 3 in 2010, down to a slim majority today) but held Democrats responsible for not doing enough to fix it.

? These two are roughly equally sized groups. ? Opposition to “Obamacare” or the stimulus played a small role, if any role at all, above and beyond 1 and 2.

Tea Party 2012
? The 2010 elections were a zenith, although the Tea Party did not win in all cases. ? It remains (at least in 2012) a potent force in primaries. ? It appears to be a vulnerability in general elections. ? Caveat 1: Redistricting helped conserve Tea Party victors. ? Caveat 2: They will not be replaced, if they are replaced at all, by bipartisan moderates.

Implications for the future?
? Further reduction of moderate office holders. ? Continued increase in the likelihood of the selection of candidates who are extreme relative to the middle of the spectrum. ? Elites recognize that party control is essential for policy success. Thus electoral success is a central consideration in all substantive processes. ? The Pattern of Future Policy Making – Gridlock or Lurching from the Liberal to the Conservative side and back again.


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