Look Inside


Chapter 1. Introduction: A Theory of Political Parties - 1

Chapter 2. Political Ambition: The Motive Force of Party Organization - 33

Chapter 3. The Structure of Political Opportunities - 47

Chapter 4. The Structure of Political Opportunities: The Age Factor - 69

Chapter 5. The Structure of Electoral Competition - 99

Chapter 6. The Concept of Winning - 135

Chapter 7. Party Organization - 151

Chapter 8. The Changing Multinuclear Party: Twentieth-Century Parties in the United States - 177

Chapter 9. A Comparative Theory of Parties - 201

Index - 227


A theory of political parties as office-seeking organizations

"Schlesinger accomplishes a . . . task which few scholars of American politics attempt: presenting an institutional analysis which links all levels of government. Thus we do not have an analysis of congressional parties, or a look at state-based organizations, but rather a theory which tells us how and why party units develop around each office, and the circumstances under which units will or will not be cooperative or cohesive. Schlesinger has again directed our attention to the important ties between individual ambition and political parties."
—Peverill Squire, Congress & The Presidency

- Peverill Squire

". . . 'must' reading for anyone in the parties' field, and particularly those whose interests focus on party organization."
—Robert J. Huckshorn, Journal of Politics

- Robert J. Huckshorn

"This book is a product of a professional lifetime of studying, thinking, and writing on political parties and the particular dynamics that distinguish their behavior and explain their operations. It builds on Schlesinger's previous writings, although it goes significantly beyond these in developing the ideas presented, in integrating these into a broader and more coherent set of theoretical propositions, and in explicating and demonstrating the utility of empirical indicators applying many of the core concepts central to the theory. The book is an innovative, highly original, and compelling treatment of the American parties, with applications explored as to how these same conceptual approaches can be used in cross-national research. . . . However it is seen, it is one of the most important books on political parties to appear in the last generation."
—William Crotty, Political Science Quarterly

- William Crotty

"No scholar has done more than Joseph Schlesinger to promote the very fruitful idea that political careers are the joint product of individual ambition and a structure of opportunities. The study of the aggregate results of the interaction between ambition and opportunity gives a portrait of the way a political system recruits, advances and socializes, politicians, traditionally the business of political parties. Thus Schlesinger succeeds in putting some meat on the bare bones of the Schumpeterian conception of parties as organizations that compete for public office by offering highly relevant tools to help scholars understand what sorts of organizations parties are."
Presidential Studies Quarterly

- Presidential Studies Quarterly

". . . both an important achievement and an interesting direction for new empirical work on the question of party strength and decline."
—Michael C. Munger, Public Choice

- Michael C. Munger