The Political Party Matrix

The Persistence of Organization

By J. P. Monroe

Subjects: American History
Series: SUNY series in Political Party Development
Paperback : 9780791449189, 168 pages, April 2001
Hardcover : 9780791449172, 168 pages, April 2001

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Table of contents



1. American Political Parties: State of Decay, Reorganization, or Holding Their Own?


Party Decline
The Party Resurgence: The Evidence
Characterizing the "Resurgent" Party
Evaluating the "New Orthodoxy"
The Modern Political Party
The Institutionalization of the Ward Heeler: Political Staff
Overview of the Book


2. The Meaning of Party


The Search for Party
Party Definition
Central Tasks and Party Structure
Studying Political Parties
The Competing Teams or Office Seeking Conception
The Organizational Conception
The Meaning of Organization
Uniting Activities and Structure


3. The Party Web


Parties in the Golden Age: The Party Benchmark
Shaky Giants?
Structure as a Means to an End
The Party as a National Franchise: The Professionalization of Congress
The Quiet Revolution in the States
The Enterprise-in-Office: California Style
A New Party?


4. Political Staffing: Living "For" and "Off" Politics


A Breed Apart
The Growth of Political Aides as Office Holders
Living "For" and "Off" Politics
The Path to Power


5. The Enterprise-in-Office: The Legislator as a Ward Boss


The Lesgislator as an Enterprise-in-Office
The Enterprise-in-Office and the Endless Campaign
A Built-In Campaign Team
Running the Campaign
The Political Staffer as a Campaign Specialist
The Blurring of Roles: Constituency Service and Campaigning


6. The Party Network: Electoral Cooperation and Lending


Political Staff: The Party Cadre
Electoral Cooperation between Field Offices
Lending Staff: Linkages in the Party's Structure
The Allocation of Staff Aid
The Consequences of Lending
Campaign Coordination from the State Legislature
The Enterprise-in-Office and the Formal Party Apparatus


7. Mini-Machines: Constituency Service


Fixing Problems: Casework
Cross-Jurisdictional Activity
Developing a District "Feel"
Cooperation with Other Staffs
The Field Office, Constituents, and the Party


8. The Entitlement Party


The Reprofessionalization of Party Politics


Appendix A

The Chiefs-of-Staff
Conducting the Interviews

The Consultants
Conducting the Interviews

The County Party Chairman
Conducting the Interviews

Appendix B
Chief-of-Staff Questionnaire
Consultant Questionnaire
Party Chairman Questionnaire

Appendix C
Staff Interviews, 1992




Argues that the political party remains an institution whose primary purpose is to allow elites to coordinate their activities in the political area.


The Political Party Matrix focuses on the organizational life of the party as it emerges through the collaboration of elected officials. Monroe argues that, rather than experiencing an institutional or bureaucratic rebirth, the parties remain what they have always been: institutions through which elites coordinate their activities in the political process requiring neither an elaborate bureaucracy nor a formal organization.

Monroe contends that the growth of political staff allows the incumbent to attract and retain a stable core of workers who can handle the tasks vital to the maintenance of the incumbent's personal political apparatus. Working together, these personal political apparatuses create intricate structures for electoral coordination. Using interviews and state and national data, Monroe provides evidence that office holders and their organizations coordinate their efforts to help other candidates in the electoral arena; they have a complex grooming and recruitment apparatus; and they cooperate in government to satisfy their supporters. The result is an elaborate party network based on the interaction and collaboration of these local units.

J. P. Monroe is Assistant Professor in Political Science at the University of Miami.


"Political parties scholarship is in need of fresh thinking and new blood. Monroe's book stands out among the rest as a work of originality."— James G. Gimpel, University of Maryland

"A useful book which provides good insights into a changing party environment." — Stephen E. Frantzich, United States Naval Academy