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Party Politics in America by M. Hershey


Party Politics in America is a chef-d’oeuvre book by Marjorie Randon Hershey. The book centers on the political parties in the United States of America and it emphasizes the role of politics in the American society. The book analyzes modern political parties coupled with their organization and funding. The author bases her argument on a research she conducted herself for a long time in the area of campaigns, elections, and the voting processes. The author presents her points by citing relevant examples to support her arguments. In addition, the book integrates materials from different authors to come up with a concrete coverage of the party politics in the United States. Incorporated in the book is the work by Martin Shefter, who is also an author of political science related articles.

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Thesis statement

The book is an extension of the work written by Frank Sorauf and Paul Allen Beck on the same topic. The 16th edition is the latest version of the work available in the market. In addition, the author bases her argument on personal research, which makes the work to stand out as a factual and accurate compilation. This paper will explore the book Party Politics in America the Sixteenth Edition by Marjorie Randon Hershey and analyze the major themes presented by the author. The paper shall provide an overview of major points and analyze strengths and weaknesses to come up with a concrete conclusion on its reliability and readability.

Overview of the author

Marjorie Randon Hershey is a female author with great experience in political science. She is currently a professor at the Indiana University and she has been in the field of writing for quite a long time. Apart from the book, Party Politics in America, she has authored other books on the American politics. One of the books written by her is The Making of Campaign Strategy, which revolves around the strategies adopted by the American politicians in order to win an election. The other work by the same author is Politics, Parties and Elections in America, which also centers on the American politics. Others include The Parties Respond and The Election of 1996: Reports and Interpretations. All her works have one thing in common, viz. they revolve around the American politics. However, the book, Party Politics in America, is the most popular books amongst her writings. The book is significant in the American politics since it provides an overview of what exactly happens in the political arena. The book plays a great role in inspiring citizens and political science students to take part in the country’s politics.


The book, Party Politics in America, covers the political scene in the United States in about 360 pages. The book builds up on the work published by other scholars such as Frank Sorauf and Paul Allen Beck on the same subject and it provides a detailed overview of the nature of political parties in the US. The author analyzes party organizations and briefs the reader on the changing roles of political parties in the US. Scholars in this field have anonymously agreed that political science involves studying voters’ behavior in elections. Given that the author of this book made an intensive analysis of the behavior of the American voters over a period of 40 years, the book can be said to be relevant and consistent with the modern political science and it is thus an important material for students undertaking this course. The author skillfully uses contemporary and historical examples to illustrate her major themes. The book is in its sixteenth edition following the author’s continuous editing in order to capture changes in the political arena and reflect modern versions of political organizations.

The book is the most updated version. Its coverage is wide as it incorporates the three vital components of political parties in the United States, viz. the party organizations, the party in the electorate, and the party in government. The book also analyzes the integration of these three components during the electioneering periods. The sixteenth edition compares the American political system to other Democratic Party systems in the world. This edition is more detailed than the preceding editions and it tackles the question of the changing function of political parties in the American political system. The author subdivides the book into three major parts depending on the themes. The first chapters of the book center on the circumstances favorable to the materialization of well-built political parties and the shifting balance between political parties and governments in the United States. The central chapters of the book describe the organization and omission of the American working groups by reform administrations. The final chapters of the book examine party organizations as tools of political power in the country.

As aforementioned, the book evaluates three key aspects of the party politics in the United States, viz. party organization, party in the electorate, party in government (Hershey 49). The book further analyzes the interdependence of the three components mainly in the electioneering period. The book is an extension of the work by Frank Sorauf who is accredited for publishing the first book on political parties in the United States. Hershey bases her argument on research she has conducted over a period of approximately 40 years in the field of the American politics mainly in the political organization and the voters’ behavior. In addition, Hershey cites modern and historical paradigms to bring to light the intriguing story of how political parties have shaped the American political system.

In the book, the author analyzes the nature of politics in the US and she skillfully analyzes the peoples’ perception regarding the country’s politics. The book is written based on a four decades’ intensive research by the author on the political and voting behavior. The author, having conducted great research on the American politics, seeks to deliver her own judgment on the peoples’ perceptions regarding politics and elections at large. The author insists that despite citizens being actively involved in political issues, they are ignorant of the elections. She claims that most people are ignorant and they have little knowledge on the institutions that are directly involved in conducting such elections. To many people, the only idea behind conducting elections is the provide voters with an opportunity to elect leaders of their choice and nothing more. The perception by many is that once a leader is elected, decision-making shifts from the public to the political leaders. In other words, the author demonstrates the naivety of voters concerning their post-election rights and she seeks to educate voters on their roles after elections. The author is of the view that elections should be accompanied by policies that enable the voters to make certain important decisions on governance even when the election period elapses.

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Key strengths

One of the major achievements of the author is noticeable in the organization of the book. The author integrates her writing with charts, sidebars, and inserts to illustrate her major themes. The diagrams emphasize the written material and they only appear at the end of paragraphs. The skillful integration of the written piece of information with charts and other explanatory diagrams is thus a major strength in the book. Their position at the end of a paragraph amounts to ingenuity as it allows a reader to synthesize the reading before moving into the graphics. Many books place the graphics within the text and at times, the graphics may compromise the readers’ attention. This aspect underscores one of the areas where Hershey’s work excels.

Key weaknesses

Even though the book is based on research conducted on the voters’ behavior, it fails to identify the specific research methods employed in the data collection. The research is theoretical as it only examines the voters’ behavior, thus ignoring other political aspects such as the individual candidate’s reputation and influence. This aspect is one of the major shortcomings of the book.


Faced with volume after volume of books about the American politics, Marjorie Randon Hershey’s summary of the political nature of the country is quite refreshing to read. In her book, she covers the role of political parties in the American politics and she sheds light on their organization and influence. She clearly explains the influence that political parties have on the voters coupled with describing the driving force for voters to vote for a certain political party. Politics in the United States are characterized by a two-party system and an overview of their structure and organization is thus essential. The book strongly presents political parties’ roles, thus making it easy for a reader to grasp the key determinants of political directions in the US. The author bases her argument on research, which she conducted herself and this aspect presents the book as a factual and accurate compilation. The work is supported by relevant examples in addition to charts and diagrams used to illustrate major points. Work by different authors is integrated into the book to come up with a concrete coverage of the American politics.

Works Cited

Hershey, Marjorie. Party Politics in America.16th ed. 2014. Upper Saddle River, Pearson. Print.

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