Michaela Brew / Sun Senior Editor

Panelists discussed the strength of partisanship and influence of political parties at a lecture Monday.

October 31, 2016

Panel Debates Party Realignment Post Nov. 8

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As the date of the presidential election approaches, three guest lecturers came to Cornell on Monday to discuss the future of American political patterns after Nov. 8.

Prof. Daniel Schlozman, political science, Johns Hopkins University, said he believes there will be no political realignments in the election this year, although both parties experienced significant challenges at their conventions.

He argued that the basic division between the Democratic and Republican parties has remained consistent as “pro-New Deal” and “anti-New Deal.” He also mentioned that it is unlikely one party will emerge dominant, which is a common sign of realignment.

Considering the transformation of the Democratic party, Scholzman said he considers Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) a unique politician who “was talking the way the Democrats have never done, challenging the old ideas.” However, he added that the Democratic Party is “more coherent” than the Republicans and will not split against this “insurgency.”

Scholzman also raised the question of how much Republican leaders can control right-wing constituents. This argument was echoed by Prof. Julia Azari, political science, Marquette University, who analyzed the political parties today.

Both parties were incapable of controlling the presidential nomination process because none of the nominees had characteristics “that anybody else wants,” Azari said.

Although both parties are relatively weak, Azari said partisanship remains strong because “party identification really matters to people,” illustrating why many voters supported Donald Trump, despite disliking him.

“Partisanship signifies an opposition to people outside the party or people who don’t share their ideas,” she clarified.

Prof. Stephen Skowronek, political science, Yale University, examined potential political realignment in the context of the “broad temporary pattern of presidential leadership.”

Rather than considering a Trump win an “extraordinary outcome,” Skowronek said he regarded a Clinton presidency as “wrinkling in political time.”