The Journal of Politics


The Coalition Merchants: The Ideological Roots of the Civil Rights Realignment

Hans Noela1

a1 Georgetown University


Over the course of the twentieth century, the Democratic and Republican parties have reversed positions on racial issues. This reversal is credited to a variety of factors, chief among them strategic decisions on the part of party leaders competing for votes. An original dataset of the opinions expressed by political thinkers in leading magazines and newspapers is used to develop a measure of ideological positions parallel to nominate scores for members of Congress. Results show that the current ideological pattern, in which racial and economic liberalism are aligned together, emerged among political intellectuals at least 20 years before it appeared in congressional voting. The finding is consistent with the view that ideology shapes party coalitions.

Hans Noel is an Assistant Professor of Government at Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20057.