Perspectives on Presidential Elections, 1992–2020

2021 · 355 Pages

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THE PURPOSE OF THIS BOOK, now in its fourth edition, is to provide in a single collection the articles of leading American scholars of presidential elections and presidential politics published in Political Science Quarterly, analyzing the major national elections from 1992 to 2020. The volume includes articles invited by the journal’s late, greatly admired Editor, Demetrios James (Jim) Caraley, to whom this volume is dedicated. . . .

The articles cumulatively chronicle the history of presidential elections in which there was a slow but major transformation of American politics, which has become stunning in its degree of ideological partisanship and its heightened level of emotions. This has involved a slow demographic and especially geographic internal realigning of the bases of the parties. There was not a wholesale partisan realignment involving a critical election that political scientists had been watching for.  The basic and highly important nature of this development is apparent, drawing on important historical perspectives on elections and politics from political science. What was not apparent was that it would lead to the startling apex that it approached in the 2020 elections, culminating in the 6 January 2021 assault on the Capitol as Congress was about to certify the 2020 presidential electoral votes. Indeed, this was the culmination of what transpired during Donald Trump’s four years in office during which there were heated debates about facts, truth, and perceptions of reality, with the end result being a highly emotionally charged dispute over the counting of votes in key states—and how these states results should have been decided.

The critical development over the last decades ultimately leading to this dispute—and raising ongoing constitutional issues today about the right to vote—was the rising partisan conflict and polarization in politics that began to emerge in the 1970s and penetrated to the level of public opinion after the election of President Bill Clinton in 1992. This divisiveness has added a new and deeply troubling dimension to national and state elections in the United States: it has posed a threat and raised questions about the state of American democracy.


Perspectives on Presidential Elections, 1992–2020: Introduction
Robert Y. Shapiro

Ten Presidential Elections: Overview
Demetrios James Caraley

The 1992 Vote for President Clinton: Another Brittle Mandate?
Everett C. Ladd

1996 Vote: The “No Majority” Realignment Continues
Everett C. Ladd

The 2000 Presidential Election: Why the Democrats Lost
Gerald M. Pomper

The 2004 Presidential Election: The Emergence of a Permanent Majority?
Paul R. Abramson, John H. Aldrich, and David W. Rohde

The 2008 Presidential and Congressional Elections: Anti-Bush Referendum and Prospects for the Democratic Majority
Gary C. Jacobson

How the Economy and Partisanship Shaped the 2012 Presidential and Congressional Elections
Gary C. Jacobson

The Triumph of Polarized Partisanship in 2016: Donald Trump’s Improbable Victory
Gary C. Jacobson

Understanding White Polarization in the 2016 Vote for President: The Sobering Role of Racism and Sexism
Brian F. Schaffner, Matthew MacWilliams, and Tatishe Nteta

The Presidential and Congressional Elections of 2020: A National Referendum on the Trump Presidency
Gary C. Jacobson

The 2000 Election and Why Americans Need a Constitutional Right to Vote for Presidential Electors
Demetrios James Caraley


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