FEEDBACK

Future of the Democratic Party

December 19, 1980

Report Outline
Implications of 1980 Elections
End of So-Called Liberal Era
Search for a New Program
Prospects and Opportunities
Special Focus

Implications of 1980 Elections

Possible Revival of Two-Party System

Taking stock of their battered party, many Democrats have expressed a surprising optimism. To be sure, the Republican landslide on Nov. 4 has produced a lot of anxiety among Democrats that they may have to give up some cherished ideas. The future of liberalism as the party's guiding ideology may even be in doubt. But many Democrats believe that as a result of the election their chronically divided party may be inspired to close ranks. Many also are convinced that the party now will begin to gain influence as an organization, following many years of decline. Retiring Party Chairman John C. White said Dec. 9 that the best thing he has seen since the election is a “heightened interest in party affairs.”

Three decades ago, the American Political Science Association's committee on political parties identified “the inadequacy of the party system in sustaining well-considered programs and providing broad public support for them” as a leading danger to American democracy. In the intervening years concern has continued to grow about the seeming inability of the two major parties to formulate coherent programs, discipline their members, present the public with clear-cut choices and — upon victory — to fulfill campaign pledges.

Analysts have attributed the declining influence of political parties and the increasing independence of candidates to a variety of factors, including television, which is said to have displaced parties as the key mediator between government and the public; more highly educated voters, who increasingly split tickets; special interest groups, which work outside the party framework and target candidates for defeat on the basis of relatively narrow considerations; and new campaign techniques — pollsters, computerized direct mailings, media consultants and all the rest — which tempt candidates to ignore party leaders.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Political Parties
Oct. 24, 2014  Future of the GOP
Feb. 28, 2014  Polarization in America
Mar. 19, 2010  Tea Party MovementUpdated
Mar. 20, 2009  Future of the GOP
Jun. 08, 2007  Democrats in Congress
Apr. 30, 2004  The Partisan Divide
Jan. 11, 1985  Post-1984 Political Landscape
Nov. 09, 1984  Democratic Revival in South America
Sep. 14, 1984  Election 1984
Dec. 19, 1980  Future of the Democratic Party
Sep. 29, 1978  New Right in American Politics
Jan. 04, 1974  Future of Conservatism
May 03, 1972  The New Populism
Feb. 02, 1956  Foreign Policy in Political Campaigns
Dec. 22, 1954  Divided Government
Aug. 04, 1952  Two-Party System
Jun. 06, 1952  Party Platforms
Sep. 05, 1951  Southern Democrats and the 1952 Election
Oct. 06, 1948  Voting in 1948
Aug. 27, 1948  Republicans and Foreign Policy
Jul. 16, 1947  Third Party Movements
Aug. 22, 1940  Political Realignments
Jan. 13, 1938  The G. O. P. and the Solid South
Jul. 22, 1936  Third Party Movements in American Politics
Jul. 07, 1936  The Monopoly Issue in Party Politics
Nov. 12, 1935  Party Platforms and the 1936 Campaign
May 18, 1934  Political Trends and New Party Movements
Jan. 13, 1932  National Party Platforms, 1832–1932
May 16, 1928  Third Party Movements
Jan. 21, 1928  Major Party Platforms 1924–1928
Nov. 14, 1924  The Election and the Third Party
Sep. 05, 1924  Party Claims and Past Political Complexion of the States
Jun. 25, 1924  Third Party Platforms
Jun. 18, 1924  Thrid Parties: Past and Prospective
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Campaigns and Elections
Campaigns and Elections
FEEDBACK

Your Email Address

Subject

Provide Feedback

Suggest a topic here.

Type the characters you see below into the box

Take our survey to help us improve CQ Researcher!