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      From Confusion to Clarity: Issues and American Voters, 1956–1968

      American Political Science Review

      JSTOR

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          Abstract

          Analysis of national election surveys from 1956 to 1968 reveals significant changes in the voters' perceptions of issues and the major parties. There has been a considerable increase in the correlation of party identification and opinion on six major issues, relating to social welfare, racial integration, and foreign aid. Voters are more prone to see a difference between the parties on these issues and are increasingly likely to identify the Democratic party as favorable to federal governmental action. These findings contrast with those ofThe American Voterand similar studies. The reasons for the changes cannot be found in demographic factors, as tested by controls for age cohorts, education, region, and race. More probably the explanation lies in strictly political factors. A particularly important event was the presidential campaign of 1964, in which ideological differences between the parties were deliberately emphasized. The electorate responded to this campaign by becoming more ideologically aware, and its learning appears to have persisted through the 1968 election. This finding suggests that past conclusions about the low ideological awareness of the electorate were specific to the Eisenhower era, and that the issue content of the vote will vary with the stimuli provided by the general political environment.

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          Most cited references 13

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          A Theory of Critical Elections

           V. O. Key, (1955)
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            Some Dynamic Elements of Contests for the Presidency

             Donald Stokes (1966)
            Despite the measured pace of American elections, there have now been a number of presidential campaigns since the advent of survey studies of voting. However sparingly, political history slowly has added to the set of distinct configurations of men and events which comprise a contest for the Presidency. The set is still small, whatever the impression created by massed thousands of interviews or by the accompanying files of election returns. Yet it is now large enough to be pressed hard for evidence about the sources of electoral change.
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              One-Party Politics and the Voter.

              The existence of one-party systems of politics within the larger framework of the democratic society merits an increased share of the attention of students of American politics. For too long the common conception has been that one-party politics is a problem unique to the Southern states. This misconception persists even though systematic studies such as the monumental work of V. O. Key and Alexander Heard have illustrated that the politics of the so-called Solid South is in many respects the politics of the nation.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                applab
                American Political Science Review
                Am Polit Sci Rev
                JSTOR
                0003-0554
                1537-5943
                June 1972
                August 2014
                : 66
                : 02
                : 415-428
                Article
                10.2307/1957786
                © 1972

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