Defining realignment

The anger and fickleness of voters are forcing change. But in which direction?

BIG structural changes to political parties happen only once in a generation. Academics reckon that in 219 years America has seen just six different party systems, each attracting a distinct coalition of voters. Donald Trump’s idea of turning the Republican Party, long the ally of big business, into a “workers’ party” may yet force a seventh. To track the trend, The Economist has melted down the American electorate into their policy choices and priorities alone, freeing them from party labels to see what kind of winning policy platforms might emerge in future.

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