Upending American Politics: Polarizing Parties, Ideological Elites, and Citizen Activists from the Tea Party to the Anti-Trump Resistance

ISBN : 9780190083526

Theda Skocpol; Caroline Tervo
368 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Feb 2020
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The election of Barack Obama in 2008 was startling, as was the victory of Donald Trump eight years later. Because both presidents were unusual and gained office backed by Congresses controlled by their own parties, their elections kick-started massive counter-movements. The Tea Party starting in 2009 and the "resistance" after November 2016 transformed America's political landscape. Upending American Politics offers a fresh perspective on recent upheavals, tracking the emergence and spread of local voluntary citizens' groups, the ongoing activities of elite advocacy organizations and consortia of wealthy donors, and the impact of popular and elite efforts on the two major political parties and candidate-led political campaigns. Going well beyond national surveys, Theda Skocpol, Caroline Tervo, and their contributors use organizational documents, interviews, and local visits to probe changing organizational configurations at the national level and in swing states. This volume analyzes conservative politics in the first section and progressive responses in the second to provide a clear overview of US politics as a whole. By highlighting evidence from the state level, it also reveals the important interplay of local and national trends.


Preface and Acknowledgments



Understanding Current Transformations in American Politics


1. The Elite and Popular Roots of Contemporary Republican Extremism,

by Theda Skocpol.

2. Dissecting the Conservative Triumph in Wisconsin, by Alexander Hertel-Fernandez.

3. Why Republicans Went Hard Right in North Carolina, by Caroline Tervo.

4. The Overlooked Organizational Basis of Trump's 2016 Victory, by Michael Zoorob and Theda Skocpol.

5. How Trump Flipped Michigan, by Sally Marsh.

6. Trump's Trump: Lou Barletta and the Limits of Anti-Immigrant Politics in Pennsylvania, by Elizabeth Thom and Theda Skocpol.


7. From Obama Victories to a GOP Edge in Florida, by Alexandra Caffrey.

8. Middle America Reboots Democracy: The Emergence and Rapid Electoral Turn of the New Grassroots, by Lara Putnam.

9. Saving America Once Again -- from the Tea Party to the anti-Trump Resistance, by Leah Gose, Theda Skocpol, and Vanessa Williamson.

10. The Surprising Advance of Gun Control Politics after Parkland, by Sophia Young.

11. The Texas-Sized Impact of Beto O'Rourke's 2018 Senate Campaign, by Eliza Oehmler and Michael Zoorob.

12. How Grassroots Resistance Networks Boosted Pennsylvania Democrats in 2018, by Maximilian Frank.

13. Citizen Activism and the Democratic Party, by Theda Skocpol, Lara Putnam, and Caroline Tervo.


America at a Crossroads

About the author: 

THEDA SKOCPOL is the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology at Harvard University and the Director of the Scholars Strategy Network. She is a past president of the American Political Science Association.; CAROLINE TERVO is a research coordinator in the Harvard Government Department who focuses on citizen grassroots organizing, state and local party building, and the local effects of federal policy changes.

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