Jim Stimson, the Raymond Dawson Professor of American Politics, has been awarded the American Political Science Association’s Philip E. Converse Award for the book he co-authored with Edward G. Carmines, Issue Evolution: Race and the Transformation of American Politics, published by Princeton University Press in 1989. The Converse Award recognizes an outstandingand influential book that was published at least five years ago.
“I admired Phil Converse then and now,” Stimson comments. “He is the youngest of the four horsemen of Ann Arbor” – Angus Campell, Philip Converse, Warren Miller, and Donald Stokes, their era’s most influential students of American politics – “and Converse was and is my model of a political scientist.” This award is all the more remarkable because it is the second time Stimson has won it – first was in 2001 for Public Opinion in America.
Issue Evolution was a labor of twelve years. “It started out as merely a statement that race was still important in American politics in the 1970s, even though it had largely disappeared from headlines,” Stimson writes. “It developed into a focused attempt to explain how change happens in party systems, along the way setting aside prevailing electoral realignment notions as hopelessly limited understandings of party dynamics.” As the award committee noted, Issue Evolution develops a more subtle story of the interactions among elites, mass electorates, and party activists, focusing on the evolutionary changes that follow relatively small initial movements. The theory has now been applied to several other issues and to multiple countries, especially in Europe.
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