chapter  3
21 Pages

The State and Local Party Organizations

This chapter traces the tumultuous changes in the state and local party organizations. It explores the evolution of local party organizations from the fabled political machines that dominated a number of eastern and Midwestern cities beginning in the late 1800s and early 1900s to the fall and rise of local parties. Consistent with the traditional American suspicion of political parties, most states extensively regulate their party organizations. The county is the main unit of local party organization in most states, because so many important local officials are elected at the county level, and usually in partisan elections. Local party organizational strength in the United States peaked in the late 1800s and early 1900s, when the urban political "machine" reached the height of its power. In the 1990s, the national party committees played a vital role in building the state parties' fund-raising by transferring increasing amounts to the state parties and candidates.