FACT: “Of the 5 million new voters in 2008 (compared with the election tallies of 2004), an estimated 2 million were African American voters, another 2 million Latino ones, and 600,000 Asian American. According to the Current Population Survey, the number of non-Hispanic white voters remained unchanged between 2004 and 2008 (U.S. Census Bureau, July 20, 2009). Moreover, while the voting rate of eighteen-to twenty-four-year-olds increased from 47 percent in 2004 to 49 percent in 2008, this increase was highest among African American youth.”

Why Americans Don’t Join the Party: Race, Immigration, and the Failure (of Political Parties) to Engage the Electorate
by Zoltan L. Hajnal & Taeku Lee

Two trends are dramatically altering the American political landscape: growing immigration and the rising prominence of independent and nonpartisan voters. Examining partisan attachments across the four primary racial groups in the United States, this book offers the first sustained and systematic account of how race and immigration today influence the relationship that Americans have—or fail to have—with the Democratic and Republican parties. Zoltan Hajnal and Taeku Lee contend that partisanship is shaped by three factors—identity, ideology, and information—and they show that African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, and whites respond to these factors in distinct ways.

The book explores why so many Americans—in particular, Latinos and Asians—fail to develop ties to either major party, why African Americans feel locked into a particular party, and why some white Americans are shut out by ideologically polarized party competition. Through extensive analysis, the authors demonstrate that when the Democratic and Republican parties fail to raise political awareness, to engage deeply held political convictions, or to affirm primary group attachments, nonpartisanship becomes a rationally adaptive response. By developing a model of partisanship that explicitly considers America’s new racial diversity and evolving nonpartisanship, this book provides the Democratic and Republican parties and other political stakeholders with the means and motivation to more fully engage the diverse range of Americans who remain outside the partisan fray.

We invite you to read Chapter 1 here: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s9468.pdf

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  1. I just read most of chapter 1. This is such interesting material. It looks like there are three major identities involved. Racial identity of course, political identity and social identity. Then there is also religion involved, which is not mentioned in these first 32 pages of the book, but is probably of importance for a large percentage of the voters. It looks like a complex problem to solve.

    I big question i have though is how much the ethnical, cultural, social and religious background matters in tough economic times like we experience now. I would expect people to look beyond their backgrounds, get more politically involved and base their political choice on their conviction rather then their identity.