This study proposes and assesses an alternative explanation of the changes in the relationship between presidential and House of Representatives election results during the last century. Jeffrey M. Stonecash argues that the separation of presidential and House election results that occurred from the 1960s to 1980 was a party-driven process, with both parties seeking to change their electoral base. Republicans sought a more conservative electoral base to counter what they saw as disturbing liberal trends in the nation. Democrats sought to reduce their reliance on the South and its conservativism. Presidential and House election results changed at different rates, creating an appearance that they were unconnected, but they eventually came together. Although many saw these changes in election results as evidence of parties' decline, this study reaffirms their position as central actors in bringing about change.
Jeffrey M. Stonecash is Maxwell Professor of Political Science at Syracuse University. He is the author of Reassessing the Incumbency Effect (Cambridge University Press, 2009), Political Parties Matter: Realignment and the Return of Partisan Voting (2005), Political Polling: Strategic Information in Campaigns (2005) and The Emergence of State Government: Parties and New Jersey Politics, 1950-2000 (2002). He co-authored Counter Realignment: Political Change in the Northeast (with Howard L. Reiter, Cambridge University Press, 2011), Dynamics of American Political Parties (with Mark D. Brewer, Cambridge University Press, 2009), Split: Class and Cultural Divides in American Politics (with Mark D. Brewer, 2007) and Diverging Parties: Realignment, Social Change, and Political Polarization (with Mark D. Brewer and Mark Mariani, 2002). He is the editor of New Directions in American Political Parties (2010).
Part I. Election Patterns and Interpretive Frameworks: 1. Disconnecting and reconnecting presidential-House election results; 2. The study of presidential-House elections; 3. Reconsidering conclusions: a critique; 4. Explaining change: the role of party pursuits; Part II. Explaining a Changing Relationship: 5. The Democratic pursuit of the North; 6. Expanding the Democratic base; 7. Republican and Democratic pursuits of new constituents; 8. The consequences of changing electoral bases; 9. Regional patterns of change; 10. Realignment and converging election results; 11. Party pursuits and American democracy; Appendix I. Presidential-House election data by House districts; Appendix II. The presidential-House relationship and uncontested House races; Appendix III. Alternative explanations of change.