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A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics

Ed. by Disalvo, Daniel / Stonecash, Jeffrey

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Changing Course: Reversing the Organizational Trajectory of the Democratic Party from Bill Clinton to Barack Obama

Daniel J Galvin1

1Northwestern University

Citation Information: The Forum. Volume 6, Issue 2, ISSN (Online) 1540-8884, DOI: 10.2202/1540-8884.1251, July 2008

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The enthusiasm for organization-building we observe today in the Democratic Party finds its roots in the 1990s. As the Democrats' competitive standing declined, their approach to their party organization began to change. With a newfound desire to recapture the majority, Democratic Party leaders began to make sustained investments in their party organization for the first time in over forty years. However, while new electoral uncertainties created new incentives for party building, translating those incentives into change at an organizational level happened only gradually, in a piecemeal fashion. Tracing the efforts of Democratic Party leaders from Bill Clinton to Barack Obama, this article argues that party building is a collective, cumulative process that takes time, resources, and persistent attention.

Keywords: political parties; Democratic Party; party building; organizational change; Bill Clinton; Terry McAuliffe; Howard Dean; Barack Obama

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