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The Forum

A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics

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Volume 12, Issue 2 (Jul 2014)


Mobilizing Marginalized Groups among Party Elites

Seth E. Masket
  • Corresponding author
  • University of Denver, Department of Political Science, 2000 E. Asbury Ave., Denver, CO 80208, USA
  • Email:
/ Michael T. Heaney
  • University of Michigan, Organizational Studies Program and Department of Political Science, 722 Dennison Building, 500 Church St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
/ Dara Z. Strolovitch
  • Princeton University, Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies and Department of Politics, 303 Robertson Hall, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
Published Online: 2014-08-08 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/for-2014-5007


The Democratic Party has long used a system of caucuses and councils to reach out to marginalized groups among convention delegates. This article tests two hypotheses about how this system works within the party. First, the Parties in Service to Candidates Hypothesis holds that caucuses and councils mobilize elites from marginalized groups to increase support for the party nominee. Second, the Group Solidarity Hypothesis holds that caucuses and councils mobilize elites from marginalized groups to enhance group solidarity. Regression analysis of data drawn from an original survey of delegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention provides no support to the Service Hypothesis, while the evidence supports the Solidarity Hypothesis in the case of the Women’s Caucus, which became a rallying point for women who were disappointed that Hillary Clinton was not the Democratic Party nominee. A similar survey of delegates to the 2008 Republican National Convention did not uncover a parallel system of representing marginalized groups within the Republican Party.


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About the article

Seth E. Masket

Seth Masket is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Denver. His research focuses on political parties, state and local politics, campaigns and elections, and social networks. He is the author of No Middle Ground: How Informal Party Organizations Control Nominations and Polarize Legislatures (University of Michigan Press, 2009).

Michael T. Heaney

Michael T. Heaney is Assistant Professor of Organizational Studies and Political Science at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on the political sociology of interest groups, social movements, and political parties, especially as they interact through social networks. With Fabio Rojas, he is co-author of Party in the Street: The Antiwar Movement and the Democratic Party after 9/11, forthcoming from Cambridge University Press in 2015.

Dara Z. Strolovitch

Dara Strolovitch is an Associate Professor at Princeton University, where she teaches in the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies, the Department of Politics, and the Center for African American Studies. Her research explores the politics of marginalization, interest groups and social movements, and the intersecting politics of race, class, gender, and sexuality. She is the author of Affirmative Advocacy: Race, Class, and Gender in Interest Group Politics (University of Chicago Press, 2007).

Corresponding author: Seth E. Masket, University of Denver, Department of Political Science, 2000 E. Asbury Ave., Denver, CO 80208, USA, e-mail:

Published Online: 2014-08-08

Published in Print: 2014-07-01

Citation Information: The Forum, ISSN (Online) 1540-8884, ISSN (Print) 2194-6183, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/for-2014-5007. Export Citation

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