THE GREAT ALIGNMENT by Alan I. Abramowitz


Race, Party Transformation, and the Rise of Donald Trump
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Copious survey research and statistical analysis about why the divide between Republican and Democratic voters is more contentious than ever and how that affects not only the presidency and Congress, but also state and local elections.

Before moving into his analysis of our current political atmosphere, Abramowitz (Political Science/Emory Univ.; The Polarized Public: Why American Government Is So Dysfunctional, 2012, etc.) provides historical context, explaining the decline of the New Deal coalition from the 1950s through the 1980s. During that decline, a significant percentage of voters split their election-day tickets among Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. However, the Republicans, led by Congressman Newt Gingrich as their chief strategist, formulated strategies to help them dominate Congress and eventually win the White House for successive terms. The strategies managed to influence voters in numerous states to join the Republican Party and never leave. Abramowitz is emphatic that the election of Donald Trump did not occur because of rapid vote shifting from his opponent, Hillary Clinton. Rather, notes the author, deep divides in the realms of race, culture, and overall ideology had been documented for at least three decades, creating the conditions for a Trump victory, no matter what pollsters found by examining 2016 trends only. Republican voters recoiled from the rise of racial and ethnic minorities, the openness of LGBTQ neighbors, and well-educated Democrats who seemed to disdain anybody who declared support for Republican candidates. Rural and small-town voters, often with less education and traditional religious beliefs compared to Democrats, found Democrats in general—and Barack Obama in particular—downright frightening. Apart from direct election results, Abramowitz documents what might be the most frightening development of all: polarized voters so hostile to each other across the Republican-Democratic divide that they cannot interact with each other in a civil manner.

A solid academic study offering scant hope for the future.

Pub Date: June 19th, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-300-20713-2
Page count: 216pp
Publisher: Yale Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2018


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