Policy and Performance in the New Deal Realignment: Evidence from Old Data and New Methods
Author(s)Caughey, Devin; Dougal, Michael C.; Schickler, Eric
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Recent research has challenged the policy bases of the New Deal realignment, arguing that it was instead driven by retrospective evaluations of the economy. Using a comprehensive analysis of opinion polls conducted in 1936–52, we argue that policy preferences were far from irrelevant. At the individual level, presidential Republicans who became Democrats were much more supportive of New Deal policies than those who remained loyal (vice versa for Democrats). At the state level, both public support for the New Deal—as measured by a group-level item response model—and income growth predict pro-Democratic shifts in presidential elections. In short, the realignment was rooted in both policy preferences and economic retrospection. Moreover, mass support for the New Deal, unlike partisan identification, was a leading indicator of long-term electoral trends, predicting presidential elections decades in the future even better than it does contemporaneous elections.
Journal of Politics
University of Chicago Press
Caughey, Devin et al. "Policy and Performance in the New Deal Realignment: Evidence from Old Data and New Methods." Journal of Politics 82, 2 (April 2020): 494-508 © 2020 Southern Political Science Association
Final published version