At bottom, the election of 2018 produced one more iteration of an electoral order dominating American politics since 1992. So the main task of this paper is to elicit the structure of that order, drop the results of 2018 into it, and see how well those results fit. The key micro-analytic tools for approaching any election did work well in 2018, but cannot distinguish this election from other recent contests. The common journalistic focus on idiosyncratic elements of stability but especially change provides no real means of analyzing either. With the result that a focus on the structure of the modern American political world has to provide the tools for unpacking what proves to be an impressively stable electoral pattern.
About the authors
Byron E. Shafer is Hawkins Chair of Political Science Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His many books include The End of Southern Exceptionalism: Class, Race, and Partisan Change in the Postwar South, with Richard G.C. Johnston, The Two Majorities and the Puzzle of Modern American Politics.
Regina L. Wagner is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Alabama. With Byron Shafer, she is coauthor of “THE LONG WAR: Policy Responsiveness and Democratic Representation in American Politics, 1952–2012” (Cambridge University Press 2019) as well as “The Trump Presidency and the Structure of Modern American Politics”. Her article “Invisible Forces: How Contextual Receptiveness to Women Shapes Women’s Political Representation in the U.S. Congress” is forthcoming in 2019.
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