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Racial Realignment:
The Transformation of American Liberalism, 1932–1965
Eric Schickler

Winner of the 2017 Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award, American Political Science Association
Co-Winner of the 2017 J. David Greenstone Book Prize, Politics and History Section of the American Political Science Association

Paperback | 2016 | $35.00 | £27.95 | ISBN: 9780691153889
Hardcover | 2016 | $85.00 | £70.95 | ISBN: 9780691153872
384 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 34 line illus. 1 table.
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Chapter 5 Appendix Tables and Figures
Chapter 7 Appendix Tables

Few transformations in American politics have been as important as the integration of African Americans into the Democratic Party and the Republican embrace of racial policy conservatism. The story of this partisan realignment on race is often told as one in which political elites—such as Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater—set in motion a dramatic and sudden reshuffling of party positioning on racial issues during the 1960s. Racial Realignment instead argues that top party leaders were actually among the last to move, and that their choices were dictated by changes that had already occurred beneath them. Drawing upon rich data sources and original historical research, Eric Schickler shows that the two parties' transformation on civil rights took place gradually over decades.

Schickler reveals that Democratic partisanship, economic liberalism, and support for civil rights had crystallized in public opinion, state parties, and Congress by the mid-1940s. This trend was propelled forward by the incorporation of African Americans and the pro-civil-rights Congress of Industrial Organizations into the Democratic coalition. Meanwhile, Republican partisanship became aligned with economic and racial conservatism. Scrambling to maintain existing power bases, national party elites refused to acknowledge these changes for as long as they could, but the civil rights movement finally forced them to choose where their respective parties would stand.

Presenting original ideas about political change, Racial Realignment sheds new light on twentieth and twenty-first century racial politics.

Eric Schickler is the Jeffrey and Ashley McDermott Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. His books include Disjointed Pluralism and Filibuster (both Princeton).


"Racial Realignment is a genuinely illuminating book."--Rich Yeselson, Dissent

"Very impressive. . . . [A] masterful historical analysis."--David T. Canon, Congress & The Presidency


"How did the Democrats become America's civil rights party? This book is the authoritative statement on that question. With a sure touch, Schickler clocks the evolution from the 1930s onward, using a rich variety of new data, not to mention his vast knowledge of the territory. His deep penetration of congressional politics in the 1930s and '40s is a major achievement."--David Mayhew, Yale University

"Few questions on American political growth are as important as those that ask how our major political parties developed their distinctive commitments on race and how those commitments shape broader policy agendas. This book supplants the conventional explanation for America's racial realignment and establishes itself as the account with which all future research must grapple."--Nolan McCarty, Princeton University

"Deftly mixing quantitative and historical scholarship with his deep knowledge of the U.S. Congress and American political parties, Schickler rewrites the civil rights fault lines of the twentieth century. He shows that America's partisan racial realignment commenced not in the 1950s and ‘60s, but in the New Deal itself. A triumph of historical political science that provides fresh insight on the foundations and troubles of our current party system."--Daniel Carpenter, Harvard University

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Table of Contents:

List of Illustrations vii
Acknowledgments xi
Chapter 1 Introduction 1
Chapter 2 Race: The Early New Deal’s Blind Spot 27
Chapter 3 Transforming Liberalism, 1933–1940 45
Chapter 4 Liberalism Transformed: The Early Civil Rights Movement and the “Liberal Lobby” 81
Chapter 5 Civil Rights and New Deal Liberalism in the Mass Public 101
Chapter 6 The African American Realignment and New Deal Liberalism 129
Chapter 7 State Parties and the Civil Rights Realignment 150
Chapter 8 Beyond the Roll Call: The Congressional Realignment 176
Chapter 9 Facing a Changing Party: Democratic Elites and Civil Rights 211
Chapter 10 Lincoln’s Party No More: The Transformation of the GOP 237
Chapter 11 Conclusions 271
Notes 287
Index 351

Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Eric Schickler:


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