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Party Organizational Strength and Public Support for Parties

John J. Coleman
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 40, No. 3 (Aug., 1996), pp. 805-824
DOI: 10.2307/2111796
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2111796
Page Count: 20
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Party Organizational Strength and Public Support for Parties
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Abstract

Theories of party organizational resurgence suggest that the strength of party organizations counteracts weakness and decline in other portions of the party system. Higher levels of total party organizational strength in an area lead to more supportive attitudes toward political parties as institutions. Consistent with Progressive fears of concentrated power, an imbalance in the organizational strength of the two parties in an area fosters more critical attitudes toward parties. NES survey data and county party organizational strength data from the Party Transformation Study are used in ordinary least squares and logit analysis to test three models of the relationship between party strength and public support toward parties. Strong party organizations contribute to public support for parties, particularly when strength is not exercised by one party alone. Total party strength is significantly related to public support only in a limited pooled analysis, but the organizational strength gap between the two parties is significantly related to public support as expected and is robust across several alternative measures of perceived party performance.

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