a1 Harvard University
Conceptions of the Party System characteristically do not explicitly include a time dimension. The use of such relatively static models to analyze the party system may exclude from attention fundamental aspects of party behavior. A non-historical conception of the party system tends to center analytical effort upon such discrete or discontinuous events as campaigns and elections. It thereby pictures the party battle as a recurring competition between unchanging entities for the favor of an electorate which, by the analytical model, is cast in the rôle of a more or less rational decision maker. By the same reasoning, shifts in the partisan balance of power become the product of issues of the moment or of the artful strokes of skillful campaigners.
V. O. Key, Jr. is Professor of Government at Harvard University. He is the author of Southern Politics in State and Nation (1949), American State Politics (1956), and Politics, Parties and Pressure Groups (4th Ed., 1958).
* The assistance of John R. Rodman in the statistical work for this article is gratefully acknowledged.