Do 527's Add Up to a Party? Thinking About the "Shadows" of Politics

Richard M. Skinner 1
  • 1 Bowdoin College

The creation and activities of the so-called 527 political organizations during the 2004 campaign support the framework created by John Aldrich in Why Parties? They also support the notion of a “party network”: a web of actors united behind the common pursuit of power under a shared label. The 527s were created by individuals deeply embedded in the party networks, were staffed by political professionals long active in party politics, and pursued strategies supportive of party aims. The party networks showed their flexibility by absorbing “outside” groups such as and Swift Boat Veterans. The activities of the 527 organizations do not support the arguments for “party decline” that were popular in the 1970s and 1980s, nor do they validate the predictions made that BCRA would devastate the political parties. Other developments during the 2004 elections support the continuing trend of American political parties toward the “responsible” model.

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This journal provides a forum for professionally informed commentary on issues affecting contemporary American politics. This includes but is not limited to issues engaging parties, elections, and political participation; the news media, interest groups, Congress, the Presidency, and the Courts; trends in public finance, presidential popularity, congressional productivity; in contemporary, historical, or comparative perspective.