Research on electoral change in American politics has taken many forms. Some of the earliest research in this tradition was concerned with “critical elections”—that is, the possibility that some individual presidential elections represent an abrupt shift in politics-as-usual. This shift might manifest as changes to policymaking, new patterns of mass partisan identification, or both. However, the “critical elections” perspective was soon challenged by a different paradigm: concern with longer-term political change not accomplished through one presidential election.
Carmines, Edward G. and Eric R. Schmidt. 2018. “Critical Elections, Partisan Realignment, and Long-Term Electoral Change in American Politics." Published at Oxford Bibliographies Online, ed. L. Sandy Maisel.