Challenging the argument that party cycles no longer exist, Nelson reconstructs party strength indices associated with national and state Democratic electoral outcomes between 1960 and 2000. Four periods are distinguishable, Democratic liberalism of 1960-1968, Dealignment between 1968-1984, the shadow realignment during 1985-1992, and the conservative consolidation between 1993-2000. During each of these periods party competition increased and Republicans gained ground, setting the groundwork for the GOP's national and local success in the 2000 elections. The variable effects of the South, proportion of foreign-born population, and population change in each state on contemporary party strength and presidential elections from 1980 to 2000 are also explained. Students and scholars interested in political parties, American government, and state and local government will find Nelson's findings compelling.
Displaying an overwhelming grasp of the literature on partisan change, Nelson presents new and interesting insights that help to explain why traditional alignment theory cannot explain the partisan change that has taken place over the past forty years.