chapter  7
32 Pages

Spitting on the Umpire: Political Parties, the Federal Election Campaign Act, and the 1996 Campaigns

For much of the last half of the twentieth century, political scientists and other observers of American politics have mourned the perceived decline of political parties. In the 1950s, the American Political Sci­ ence Association commissioned a report called “Toward a More Re­ sponsible Two Party System” expressing concern about declining party allegiance in the electorate and diminished party activity in campaigns (American Political Science Association 1950). The most significant factors that caused the decline of the two-party system were rising economic and educational levels, which produced greater voter inde­ pendence at the polls; primary elections, which replaced party conven­ tions in candidate selection; and candidate-centered campaigns, which operated independently of party officials. By the 1970s, there was a general consensus that the parties were largely irrelevant in modem American campaigns (Crotty 1984).