Date of Award

Fall 12-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Political Science


Political Science

Major Professor

Christine Day

Second Advisor

Daniel Lewis

Third Advisor

John Kiefer


In 2002, John Judis and Ruy Teixeira published The Emerging Democratic Majority, a book that postulated that the United States was in the beginning of a political realignment that would spell the end of the Reagan-era coalition that gave Republicans an electoral advantage on the presidency. The authors claimed an electorate that would favor the Democratic Party would emerge to take its place. Since Senator Barack Obama’s victory in the 2008 presidential election was powered by a coalition that looked much like the one Judis and Teixeira described, it appeared the authors’ thesis was being borne out by actual election results. However, the events of the 2000s and early 2010s have lent both credibility and doubt to this possible realignment, and have drawn attention to the problems of regular realignment theory. Exploring the premise laid out by Judis and Teixeira from their work, The Emerging Democratic Majority, as well as observations about the changing composition of the American electorate, I analyze key groups in the American electorate to determine if these groups are trending more Democratic in presidential and congressional races since the 1988 presidential election. Findings showed several of these groups regularly supported Democratic candidates but did not consistently trend to the Democrats from year to year. Changes across time often depended on match-ups of nonconsecutive years, with Democrats in the year 2008 drawing especially strong support from hypothesized voter groups. While Democrats can count on the support of groups such as voters who achieve high levels of college education or voters with secular outlooks on life, their success still depends highly on candidate quality and advantage on issues and cannot be taken for granted.


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