The Journal of Politics


Ideological Realignment in the U.S. Electorate

Alan I. Abramowitza1 and Kyle L. Saundersa2

a1 Emory University

a2 Emory University


Using data from the 1976–1994 American National Election Studies and the 1992–94 ANES panel survey, this paper demonstrates that the outcomes of the 1994 and 1996 elections reflected a longterm shift in the bases of support and relative strength of the two major parties. This shift in the party loyalties of the electorate was based on the increased ideological polarization of the Democratic and Republican Parties during the Reagan and post-Reagan eras. Clearer differences between the parties' ideological positions made it easier for citizens to choose a party identification based on their policy preferences. The result has been a secular realignment of party loyalties along ideological lines.

(Accepted November 26 1996)

(Received September 01 1997)

Alan I. Abramowitz is Alben W. Barkley Professor of political science, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322.

Kyle L. Saunders is a Ph.D candidate in political science, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322.