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Altered StatesChanging Populations, Changing Parties, and the Transformation of the American Political Landscape$
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Thomas M. Holbrook

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190269128

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190269128.001.0001

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How Does Political Change Occur?

How Does Political Change Occur?

Chapter:
(p.31) 2 How Does Political Change Occur?
Source:
Altered States
Author(s):

Thomas M. Holbrook

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190269128.003.0002

The political landscape of presidential elections has undergone an important and substantial transformation in the last forty years. Some states moved clearly and substantially in the direction of the Republican Party, others in the Democratic Party direction, and still others changed by smaller degrees or barely registered any change. It is unlikely that any single variable can explain these changes, especially given the heterogeneous pattern of change. Instead this chapter proposes two different ideas as plausible explanations for the observed changes in the geographic contours of party support in presidential elections: compositional effects, which focus on changes in state characteristics; and contextual effects, which focus on change in how those characteristics matter to election outcomes. These two explanations are not mutually exclusive and can both contribute to the changing electoral profiles of the fifty states.

Keywords:   state population, political change, political party, compositional effects, contextual effects

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