Neutrality, negativity, or both? A reply to Wattenberg
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Although there are indications that the two major parties in the U.S. have come to have new meaning for many citizens in the 1980s, Wattenberg's data do provide convincing support for his general argument on declining party salience. The following article attempts to clarify the meaning of this trend and to show that a lack of confidence in political parties as representative institutions is indeed an obstacle to the restoration of partisan attachments at the mass level. Both CPS survey data and depth interview materials are utilized in an effort to understand more fully the complex relationship between the American public and its party system.
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