A new political realignment?
IN the two years between Richard Nixon’s 1968 Presidential victory and the November 1970 elections, the feeling arose that the United States had entered a phase of significant partisan realignment, and that impending changes in voter loyalties were going decisively against the Democrats. Kevin Phillips’ much-discussed book, The Emerging Republican Majority, is the most elaborate exposition of this theory. But such obviously partisan explanations would have been of little moment had they not found general confirmation in the reports of more detached journalists and social scientists. Thus Samuel Lubell, one of the most far-seeing American political writers, in his The Hidden Crisis in American Politics (1970),. penned an epitaph for Democratic ascendancy, anticipating “a new [partisan] alignment of two incomplete, narrow-based coalitions, polarized against each other.” And Andrew Hacker predicted that “the [Republican] party may well begin to chalk up majorities as it has not since the days of Calvin Coolidge.” In general, the commentaries by social scientists and journalists from 1968 through 1970 suggested that the Democrats’ long ascendancy was at least seriously in question.