chapter  5
21 Pages

Party Activists

The party activists tend to be more extreme in their attitudes toward issues than most other voters are; Democratic activists are more consistently liberal, and Republican activists more conservative, than their own party's less-active supporters. The energy and passion in party organizations come increasingly from issue-driven activists—those on the right in the Republican Party and those on the left for the Democrats. Early in the life of the American republic and for more than a century afterward, people were attracted to party work by the prospect of being rewarded with government jobs if the party won. Patronage jobs in government are not the only employment opportunities a party can offer. State and national party organizations now hire thousands of professional campaign workers, as do consulting firms associated with the parties. Most party organizations rely on a variety of incentives to attract activists. Strong party organizations have often been considered a threat to American politics.