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Political parties in the United States

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

American electoral politics have been dominated by two major political parties since shortly after the founding of the republic. Since the 1850s, they have been the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. Since the last major party political realignment in the mid-20th century (which occurred after the enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965), the Democratic Party has been the center-left and liberal party, and the Republican Party has been the center-right and conservative party.[1][2] Since the 1990s, political polarization in the United States has increased; both the Republican and Democratic parties have shifted further apart from their respective center-right and center-left ideologies. This has sparked greater tension and debate over major ideologically controversial bills, many of which result in political "deadlock".[3] In recent U.S. political history, political behavior correlates with the urban–rural political divide; whereby more voters living in urban areas gravitate towards the Democratic Party, voters living in more rural areas gravitate towards the Republican Party, whilst suburban electoral districts are battleground marginal seats which also influence the outcomes of battleground swing states in the Electoral College system of United States presidential elections.[4]

This two-party system is based on laws, party rules and custom, although this system was not specifically outlined in the U.S. Constitution (which predates the system). Several third parties also operate in the U.S., and from time to time elect someone to local office.[5] Some members of the US Congress have no party affiliation.[a] The largest third party since the 1980s has been the Libertarian Party. Besides the Constitution, Green, and Libertarian parties, there are many other political parties that receive only minimal support and only appear on the ballot in one or a few states.

The need to win popular support in a republic led to the American invention of voter-based political parties in the 1790s.[6] Americans were especially innovative in devising new campaign techniques that linked public opinion with public policy through the party.[7] Political scientists and historians have divided the development of America's two-party system into five eras.[8] The first two-party system consisted of the Federalist Party, which supported the ratification of the Constitution, and the Democratic-Republican Party or the Anti-Administration party (Anti-Federalists), which opposed the powerful central government that the Constitution established when it took effect in 1789.[9] Party realignments have recurred periodically in response to social and cultural movements and economic development. The modern two-party system consists of the "Democratic" Party and the "Republican" Party. However these names, while they have been in existence since before the Civil War, have not always represented the same ideology or electorate. One of these two parties has won every United States presidential election since 1852 and has controlled the United States Congress since at least 1856.[10]

Some political candidates, and many voters, choose not to identify with a particular political party. In some states, independents are not allowed to vote in primary elections, but in others, they can vote in any primary election of their choice. Although the term "independent" often is used as a synonym for "moderate," "centrist," or "swing voter," to refer to a politician or voter who holds views that incorporate facets of both liberal and conservative ideologies, most self-described independents consistently support one of the two major parties when it comes time to vote, according to Vox Media.[11]

History and early political parties

Popular votes to political parties during presidential elections.
Popular votes to political parties during presidential elections.
Political parties derivation. Dotted line means unofficially.
Political parties derivation. Dotted line means unofficially.

The United States Constitution is silent on the subject of political parties. The Founding Fathers did not originally intend for American politics to be partisan. In Federalist Papers No. 9 and No. 10, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, respectively, wrote specifically about the dangers of domestic political factions. In addition, the first President of the United States, George Washington, was not a member of any political party at the time of his election or throughout his tenure as president.[12] Furthermore, he hoped that political parties would not be formed, fearing conflict and stagnation, as outlined in his Farewell Address.[13]

First Party System: 1792–1824

The First Party System of the United States featured the "Federalist Party" and the "Anti-federalist Party" (which became known as the "Democratic-Republican Party" and was sometimes called "Jeffersonian Republican"). The beginnings of the American two-party system emerged from George Washington's immediate circle of advisers, which included Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. Hamilton and Madison, who wrote the aforementioned Federalist Papers against political factions, ended up being the core leaders in this emerging party system. It was the split camps of Federalists, given rise with Hamilton as a leader, and Democratic-Republicans, with Madison and Thomas Jefferson at the helm of this political faction, that created the environment in which partisanship, once distasteful, came into being.[14][15]

  • The Federalist Party grew from the national network of Washington's Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, who favoured a strong united central government, close ties to Britain, a centralized banking system, and close links between the government and men of wealth.[citation needed]
  • The Democratic-Republican Party was founded by Madison and Thomas Jefferson, who strongly opposed Hamilton's agenda.[16] The Jeffersonians came to power in 1800 and the Federalists were too elitist to compete effectively. The Federalists survived in the Northeast, but their refusal to support the War of 1812 verged on secession and was a devastating blow when the war ended well. The Era of Good Feelings under President James Monroe (1816–1824) marked the end of the First Party System and a brief period in which partisanship was minimal.[17]

Second Party System: 1828–1854

The Second Party System operated from the late 1820s to the mid-1850s following the splintering of the Democratic-Republican Party. Two major parties dominated the political landscape: the Whig Party, led by Henry Clay, that grew from the National Republican Party; and the Democratic Party, led by Andrew Jackson. The Democrats supported the primacy of the Presidency over the other branches of government, and opposed both the Bank of the United States as well as modernizing programs that they felt would build up industry at the expense of the farmers.[18]

The Whigs, on the other hand, advocated the supremacy of Congress over the executive branch as well as policies of modernization and economic protectionism. Central political battles of this era were the Bank War and the Spoils system of federal patronage.[19] The early 1850s saw the collapse of the Whig party, largely as a result of decline in its leadership and a major intra-party split over slavery as a result of the Kansas–Nebraska Act. In addition, the fading of old economic issues removed many of the unifying forces holding the party together.

Presidential election victories by party system[20]
Party System Party A Party B
First 7 1
Second 5 2
Third 3 7
Fourth 2 7
Fifth 7 2
Sixth 6 8

Third Party System: 1854–1890s

The Third Party System stretched from 1854 to the mid-1890s, and was characterized by the emergence of the anti-slavery Republican Party, which adopted many of the economic policies of the Whigs, such as national banks, railroads, high tariffs, homesteads and aid to land grant colleges. The Democratic Party was in large part the opposition party during this period, although it often controlled the Senate or the House of Representatives, or both.[21]

Civil war and Reconstruction issues polarized the parties until the Compromise of 1877, which ended the latter. Thus both parties became broad-based voting coalitions and the race issue pulled newly enfranchised African Americans (Freedmen) into the Republican Party while white southerners (Redeemers) joined the Democratic Party. The Democratic coalition also had conservative pro-business Bourbon Democrats, traditional Democrats in the North (many of them former Copperheads), and Catholic immigrants, among others. The Republican coalition also consisted of businessmen, shop owners, skilled craftsmen, clerks, and professionals who were attracted to the party's modernization policies.[22]

Fourth Party System: 1896–1932

The Fourth Party System, 1896 to 1932, consisted of the same interest groups as the Third Party System, but saw major shifts in the central issues of debate. This period also corresponded to the Progressive Era, and was dominated by the Republican Party. It began after the Republicans blamed the Democrats for the Panic of 1893, which later resulted in William McKinley's victory over William Jennings Bryan in the 1896 presidential election.[23]

The central domestic issues changed to government regulation of railroads and large corporations ("trusts"), the protective tariff, the role of labor unions, child labor, the need for a new banking system, corruption in party politics, primary elections, direct election of senators, racial segregation, efficiency in government, women's suffrage, and control of immigration. Most voting blocs continued unchanged, but some realignment took place, giving Republicans dominance in the industrial Northeast and new strength in the border states. Historians have long debated why no Labor Party emerged in the United States, in contrast to Western Europe.[24]

Fifth Party System: 1932–1976

The Fifth Party System emerged with the New Deal coalition beginning in 1933.[25] The Republicans began losing support after the Great Depression, giving rise to Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the activist New Deal. Democrats promoted American liberalism, anchored in a coalition of specific liberal groups, especially ethno-religious constituencies (Catholics, Jews, African Americans), white Southerners, well-organized labor unions, urban machines, progressive intellectuals, and populist farm groups.[26]

Opposition Republicans were split between a conservative wing, led by Ohio Senator Robert A. Taft, and a more successful moderate wing exemplified by the politics of Northeastern leaders such as Nelson Rockefeller, Jacob Javits, and Henry Cabot Lodge. The latter steadily lost influence inside the GOP after 1964.[27]

Since the 1930s, the Democrats positioned themselves more towards liberalism while conservatives increasingly dominated the GOP.[28]

Sixth Party System, 1980s–Present

It's disputed exactly when the Fifth Party System ended and the Sixth began. 1968 is used for the maps in Fifth Party System and Sixth Party System, which also marks the end of a proposed historical dealignment period beginning in 1958. In the 1960s, the Southern Strategy shifted Southern Democrats to the Republican Party, as Nixon was winning landslides. This caused the Republican Party to gain increased strength compared to the Fifth Party System. Political nominees in the Sixth Party System started being elected by primaries, instead of county caucuses and state conventions. Compared to the Fifth, the Sixth Party System is characterized by the Democratic and Republican ideologies diverging farther apart, resulting in strong political divisiveness.

New voter coalitions included the emergence of the "religious right", which is a combination of Catholics and Evangelical Protestants united on opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. Southern white voters started voting for Republican presidential candidates in the 1950s, and Republican state and local candidates in the 1990s.[29]

Seventh Party System

It has been argued that a Seventh Party System has already started. Mark D. Brewer and L. Sandy Maisel speculate that "in the wake of Donald Trump's 2016 presidential victory, there is now strengthening debate as to whether we are entering a new party system as Trump fundamentally reshapes the Republican party and the Democratic party responds and evolves as well."[30]

If the Seventh Party System has not started yet, the Sixth Party System would be the longest party system ever, surpassing the forty years of the Third Party System. However, even by those that do believe it has started, there is no consensus on the exact start date of the Seventh Party System.

Minor parties and independents

Although American politics have been dominated by the two-party system, several other political parties have also emerged throughout the country's history. The oldest third party was the Anti-Masonic Party, which was formed in upstate New York in 1828. The party's creators feared the Freemasons, believing they were a powerful secret society that was attempting to rule the country in defiance of republican principles.[31]

Major parties

Democratic Party

The Democratic Party is one of two major political parties in the U.S. Founded as the Democratic Party in 1828 by Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren,[32] it is the oldest extant voter-based political party in the world.[33][34]

Until the mid-20th century, the Democratic Party was the dominant party among white southerners, and as such, was then the party most associated with the defense of slavery. However, following the Great Society under Lyndon B. Johnson, the Democratic Party became the more progressive party on issues of civil rights, they would slowly lose dominance in southern states until 1996.

The Democratic Party since 1912 has positioned itself as the liberal party on domestic issues. The economic philosophy of Franklin D. Roosevelt, which has strongly influenced modern American liberalism, has shaped much of the party's agenda since 1932. Roosevelt's New Deal coalition controlled the White House until 1968, with the exception of the two terms of President Eisenhower from 1953 to 1961. Since the mid-20th century, Democrats have generally been in the center-left and currently support social justice, social liberalism, a mixed economy, and the welfare state, although Bill Clinton and other New Democrats have pushed for free trade and neoliberalism, which is seen to have shifted the party rightwards.[35][36][37][38] Democrats are currently strongest in the Northeast and West Coast and in major American urban centers. African-Americans and Latinos tend to be disproportionately Democratic, as do trade unions.

In 2004, it was the largest political party, with 72 million registered voters (42.6% of 169 million registered) claiming affiliation.[39] Although his party lost the election for president in 2004, Barack Obama would later go on to become president in 2009 and continue to be the president until January 2017. Obama was the 15th Democrat to hold the office, and from the 2006 midterm elections until the 2014 midterm elections, the Democratic Party was also the majority party in the United States Senate.

A 2011 USA Today review of state voter rolls indicates that the number of registered Democrats declined in 25 of 28 states (some states do not register voters by party). During this time, Republican registration also declined, as independent or no preference voting was on the rise. However, in 2011 Democrats numbers shrank 800,000, and from 2008 they were down by 1.7 million, or 3.9%.[40] In 2018, the Democratic party was the largest in the United States with roughly 60 million registered members.

Republican Party

The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States of America. Since the 1880s it has been nicknamed (by the media) the "Grand Old Party" or GOP, although it is younger than the Democratic Party. Founded in 1854 by Northern anti-slavery activists and modernizers, the Republican Party rose to prominence in 1860 with the election of Abraham Lincoln, who used the party machinery to support victory in the American Civil War.[41]

The GOP dominated national politics during the Third Party System, from 1854 to 1896, and the Fourth Party System from 1896 to 1932. Since its founding, the Republican Party has been the more market-oriented of the two American political parties, often favoring policies that aid American business interests. As a party whose power was once based on the voting power of Union Army veterans, this party has traditionally supported more robust national defense measures and improved veterans' benefits. Today, the Republican Party supports an American conservative platform, with further foundations in economic liberalism, fiscal conservatism, and social conservatism. The Republican Party tends to be strongest in the Southern United States and the "flyover states", as well as suburban and rural areas in other states.[42]

Since the 2010 midterm elections, the Republicans held a majority in the United States House of Representatives until the 2018 midterms where they lost it to the Democratic Party. Additionally, from the 2014 elections to the 2020 elections, the Republican Party controlled the Senate.[43] In 2018, the Republican party had roughly 55 million registered members, making it the second largest party in the United States. In the aftermath of the 2020 United States elections, the GOP lost their senate majority, and Chuck Schumer was appointed Senate Majority Leader in a power-sharing agreement with the Republican Party.

Minor parties

The United States also has an array of minor parties, the largest of which (on the basis of support for their presidential candidates in the 2020 Presidential Elections), are the Libertarian, Green, and Alliance parties.

Libertarian Party

The Libertarian Party was founded on December 11, 1972.[44] It is the largest continuing third party in the United States, claiming well over 600,000 registered voters across all 50 states.[45] As of 2021, they have about 176 minor elected officials, including 2 state legislators.[46] Former Representative Justin Amash, a former Republican and later independent from Michigan, switched to the Libertarian Party in May 2020, to become the first Libertarian Party member of Congress. Amash declined to run for reelection in 2020 and left office on January 3, 2021.

The 2012 Libertarian Party nominee for United States President was former New Mexico governor, Gary Johnson. He achieved ballot access in every state except for Michigan (only as a write-in candidate) and Oklahoma. He received over one million votes in the election. In 2016, Johnson ran again, receiving over four million votes, or 3.3% of the popular vote.

The Libertarian Party's core mission is to reduce the size, influence, and expenditures in all levels of government. To this effect, the party supports minimally regulated markets, a less powerful federal government, strong civil liberties, drug liberalization, open immigration, non-interventionism and neutrality in diplomatic relations, free trade and free movement to all foreign countries, and a more representative republic.[47] As of 2020, it is the third largest organized political party in the United States.

Green Party

The Green Party has been active as a third party since the 1980s. The party first gained widespread public attention during Ralph Nader's second presidential run in 2000. Currently, the primary national Green Party organization in the U.S. is the Green Party of the United States, which has eclipsed the earlier Greens/Green Party USA.

The Green Party in the United States has won elected office mostly at the local level; most winners of public office in the United States who are considered Greens have won nonpartisan-ballot elections (that is, elections in which the candidates' party affiliations were not printed on the ballot).[48] In 2005, the Party had 305,000 registered members in the District of Columbia and 20 states that allow party registration.[49] During the 2006 elections the party had ballot access in 31 states.[50] In 2017, Ralph Chapman, a Representative in the Maine House of Representative switched his association from Unaffiliated to the Green Independent Party.[51]

The United States Green Party generally holds a left-wing ideology on most important issues. Greens emphasize environmentalism, non-hierarchical participatory democracy, social justice, respect for diversity, peace, and nonviolence. As of 2020, it is the fourth largest organized political party in the United States.

Alliance Party

The Alliance Party is a centrist American political party that was formed in 2018 and registered in 2019. The Alliance Party gained affiliation status with multiple other parties, including the American Party of South Carolina,[52] the Independence Party of Minnesota,[53] and the Independent Party of Connecticut.[54] During the 2020 Presidential Elections Alliance Party Presidential Candidate Roque De La Fuente placed fifth in terms of the popular vote.[55] Following the presidential election, the American Delta Party and the Independence Party of New York joined the Alliance Party.[56][57] The Independence Party of New York disaffiliated in 2021.[58] As of 2020, it is the fifth largest organized political party in the United States.

Officially recognized political parties by state

As of December 2021

Key (official in 2+ states)
A: Alliance Party
C: Constitution Party
D: Democratic Party
G: Green Party
L: Libertarian Party
M: Legal Marijuana Now Party
R: Republican Party
U: Unity Party of America
WC: Working Class Party
WF: Working Families Party
O: Other political parties
State A C D G L M R U WC WF O Ref
AL D R [59]
AK D R [b] [60]
AZ D L R [61]
AR D L R [62]
CA D G L R [c] [63]
CO C D G L R U [d] [64]
CT A D G L R WF [65]
DE D G L R [e] [66]
FL A C D G L R U [f] [67]
GA D R [68]
HI C D G L R [g] [69]
ID C D L R [70]
IL D R [71]
IN D L R [72]
IA D R [73]
KS D L R [74]
KY D R [75]
LA D G L R [h] [76]
ME D G R [77]
MD D G L R WC [i] [78]
MA D R [79]
MI C D G L R WC [j] [80]
MN A D G L M R [k] [81]
MS D L R [l] [82]
MO C D G L R [83]
MT D L R [84]
NE D L M R [85]
NV C D L R [86]
NH D R [87]
NJ D R [88]
NM D L R WF [89]
NY D R WF [m] [90]
NC D L R [91]
ND D R [92]
OH D R [93]
OK D L R [94]
OR C D G L R WF [n] [95]
PA D G L R [96]
RI D R [97]
SC A C D G L R WF [o] [98]
SD D L R [99]
TN D R [100]
TX D G L R [101]
UT C D L R [p] [102]
VT D L R [q] [103]
VA D R [104]
WA D R [r] [105]
WV D G L R [106]
WI C D R [107]
WY C D L R [108]


  1. ^ Many such independents commonly caucus on legislation with either the Democrats or Republicans.
  2. ^ Alaskan Independence Party
  3. ^ American Independent Party; Peace and Freedom Party
  4. ^ Approval Voting Party
  5. ^ Conservative Party of Delaware; Independent Party of Delaware; Liberal Party of Delaware
  6. ^ Ecology Party; Independent Party of Florida; People’s Party of Florida; Party for Socialism and Liberation of Florida
  7. ^ Aloha ʻĀina Party
  8. ^ Independent Party of Louisiana
  9. ^ Bread and Roses Party
  10. ^ Natural Law Party of Michigan
  11. ^ Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party
  12. ^ America First Party; Mississippi Reform Party; Justice Party
  13. ^ Conservative Party
  14. ^ Independent Party of Oregon; Progressive Party of Oregon
  15. ^ Independence Party of South Carolina; Labor Party; United Citizens Party
  16. ^ Independent American Party of Utah; United Utah Party
  17. ^ Liberty Union Party; Progressive Party of Vermont
  18. ^ Washington does not officially recognize political parties


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  28. ^ Matthew Levendusky, The Partisan Sort: How Liberals Became Democrats and Conservatives Became Republicans (U Chicago Press, 2009)
  29. ^ J. David Woodard, The New Southern Politics (2006). For a graph of the movement of Southern white voters see Brian F. Schaffner (2010). Politics, Parties, and Elections in America (7th ed.). Cengage Learning. p. 31. ISBN 9780495899167.
  30. ^ Brewer and Maisel, Parties and Elections in America: The Electoral Process (9th ed. 2021) p 42 online
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  32. ^ Warren, Kenneth F. (2008). Encyclopedia of U.S. campaigns, elections, and electoral behavior: A-M. SAGE. p. 176. ISBN 978-1-4129-5489-1. Archived from the original on 2020-07-28. Retrieved 2018-11-07.
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  34. ^ Micklethwait, John; Wooldridge, Adrian (2004). The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America. p. 15. "The country possesses the world's oldest written constitution (1787); the Democratic Party has a good claim to being the world's oldest political party."
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  36. ^ Marangos, John; Astroulakis, Nikos; Dafnomili, Maria (2013). "Beyond US Neoliberalism and the Washington Consensus: The Challenge of Development Ethics for the USA". In Karagiannis, Nikolaos; Madjd-Sadjadi, Zagros; Sen, Swapan (eds.). The US Economy and Neoliberalism: Alternative Strategies and Policies. Routledge. p. 58. ISBN 978-1138904910.
  37. ^ Scheidel, Walter (2017). The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century. Princeton University Press. p. 416. ISBN 978-0691165028.
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  48. ^ "Green elected officials". Archived from the original on November 23, 2010.
  49. ^ "Green Party Ballot Status and Voter Registration Totals (United States) Archived 2008-05-26 at the Wayback Machine". Retrieved April 12, 2006.
  50. ^ "Greens Win Ballot Access in 31 States, Up From 17 in January". Green Party press release, September 5, 2006.
  51. ^ "Lawmaker's party switch gives Greens a seat in the Maine House". 22 September 2017. Archived from the original on 2017-09-23. Retrieved 2017-09-22.
  52. ^ "South Carolina American Party Changes its Name to Alliance Party | Ballot Access News". Retrieved 2022-07-29.
  53. ^ "Minnesota Independence Party Becomes State Affiliate of the Alliance Party | Ballot Access News". Retrieved 2022-07-29.
  54. ^ "Connecticut Independent Party Affiliates with Alliance Party | Ballot Access News". Retrieved 2022-07-29.
  55. ^ "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Retrieved 2022-07-29.
  56. ^ "Alliance Party and American Delta Party Agree to Merge; Rapidly Growi…". 2021-04-28. Retrieved 2022-07-29.
  57. ^ "New York Independence Party Affiliates with the Alliance Party | Ballot Access News". Retrieved 2022-07-29.
  58. ^ "Alliance Party May 2021 Newsletter – Independent Political Report". 2021-05-31. Retrieved 2022-07-29.
  59. ^ Political Parties in Alabama
  60. ^ Political Parties in Alaska
  61. ^ Political Parties in Arizona
  62. ^ Political Parties in Arkansas
  63. ^ Political Parties in California
  64. ^ Political Parties in Colorado
  65. ^ Political Parties in Connecticut
  66. ^ Political Parties in Delaware
  67. ^ Political Parties in Florida
  68. ^ Political Parties in Georgia
  69. ^ Political Parties in Hawaii
  70. ^ Political Parties in Idaho
  71. ^ Political Parties in Illinois
  72. ^ Political Parties in Indiana
  73. ^ Political Parties in Iowa
  74. ^ Political Parties in Kansas
  75. ^ Political Parties in Kentucky
  76. ^ Political Parties in Louisiana
  77. ^ Political Parties in Maine
  78. ^ Political Parties in Maryland
  79. ^ Political Parties in Massachusetts
  80. ^ Political Parties in Michigan
  81. ^ Political Parties in Minnesota
  82. ^ Political Parties in Mississippi
  83. ^ Political Parties in Missouri
  84. ^ Political Parties in Montana
  85. ^ Political Parties in Nebraska
  86. ^ Political Parties in Nevada
  87. ^ Political Parties in New Hampshire
  88. ^ Political Parties in New Jersey
  89. ^ Political Parties in New Mexico
  90. ^ Political Parties in New York
  91. ^ Political Parties in North Carolina
  92. ^ Political Parties in North Dakota
  93. ^ Political Parties in Ohio
  94. ^ Political Parties in Oklahoma
  95. ^ Political Parties in Oregon
  96. ^ Political Parties in Pennsylvania
  97. ^ Political Parties in Rhode Island
  98. ^ Political Parties in South Carolina
  99. ^ Political Parties in South Dakota
  100. ^ Political Parties in Tennessee
  101. ^ Political Parties in Texas
  102. ^ Political Parties in Utah
  103. ^ Political Parties in Vermont
  104. ^ Political Parties in Virginia
  105. ^ Political Parties in Washington
  106. ^ Political Parties in West Virginia
  107. ^ Political Parties in Wisconsin
  108. ^ Political Parties in Wyoming

Further reading

  • Critchlow, Donald T. American Political History: A Very Short Introduction (2015)
  • Dinkin, Robert J. Campaigning in America: A History of Election Practices. Greenwood (1989)
  • Foley, Edward B. Ballot Battles: The History of Disputed Elections in the United States (Oxford University Press, 2016). xiv, 479 pp.
  • Gould, Lewis. Grand Old Party: A History of the Republicans (2003) online
  • Graff, Henry F., ed. The Presidents: A Reference History (3rd ed. 2002) online, short scholarly biographies from George Washington to William Clinton.
  • Kleppner, Paul, ed. The evolution of American electoral systems (1981) experts review the 1st to 5th party systems.
  • Kurian, George T. ed. The encyclopedia of the Democratic Party (1996) vol 3 online
  • Kurian, George T. ed. The encyclopedia of the Republican Party (4 vol 1996) vol 1-2-4 online
  • Schlozman, Daniel. When Movements Anchor Parties: Electoral Alignments in American History (Princeton University Press, 2015) xiv, 267 pp.
  • Schlesinger, Jr., Arthur Meier ed. History of American Presidential Elections, 1789–2000 (various multivolume editions, latest is 2001). For each election includes history and selection of primary documents. Essays on some elections are reprinted in Schlesinger, The Coming to Power: Critical presidential elections in American history (1972)
  • Schlesinger, Arthur Meier, Jr. ed. History of U.S. Political Parties (1973) multivolume
  • Shafer, Byron E. and Anthony J. Badger, eds. Contesting Democracy: Substance and Structure in American Political History, 1775–2000 (2001), collection of new essays by specialists on each time period:
    • includes: "State Development in the Early Republic: 1775–1840" by Ronald P. Formisano; "The Nationalization and Racialization of American Politics: 1790–1840" by David Waldstreicher; "'To One or Another of These Parties Every Man Belongs;": 1820–1865 by Joel H. Silbey; "Change and Continuity in the Party Period: 1835–1885" by Michael F. Holt; "The Transformation of American Politics: 1865–1910" by Peter H. Argersinger; "Democracy, Republicanism, and Efficiency: 1885–1930" by Richard Jensen; "The Limits of Federal Power and Social Policy: 1910–1955" by Anthony J. Badger; "The Rise of Rights and Rights Consciousness: 1930–1980" by James T. Patterson, Brown University; and "Economic Growth, Issue Evolution, and Divided Government: 1955–2000" by Byron E. Shafer
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