The American Political Science Association (APSA) and Protect Democracy have partnered to support the APSA Presidential Task Force on Political Parties in summarizing for a general audience the existing political science research on responsible political party behavior. The task force’s report, More than Red and Blue: Political Parties and American Democracy, synthesizes decades of expert research on political parties: what they do in democracies, why American parties are failing to behave responsibly, and what evidence tells us about their future.

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The APSA Political Parties Task Force

The American Political Science Association (APSA) and Protect Democracy partnered to create the APSA Presidential Task Force on Political Parties because they recognized the real and serious threat of democratic backsliding and the contributing role political parties play in that decline and, potentially, in democratic renewal. In aggregating research around American political parties, More than Red and Blue diagnoses the sources of the challenges that face our democracy, the characteristics of political parties that exacerbate those vulnerabilities, and considerations for reform of our current system for the good of democracy.

More than Red and Blue makes a landmark contribution to public debate — APSA has not published a major report on American parties and partisanship since 1950. “Ideally, political parties provide channels for representation of views and assist candidates and voters in organizing around issues. They help bring people from disparate points of view together for a common purpose and hold elected officials accountable. And perhaps most importantly, parties govern. But our parties do not appear to be performing these functions well. The question is–why not? And what can be done to rectify this?” explained John Ishiyama, who served as APSA’s President from 2021-2022. 

The analysis, views, and conclusions contained herein reflect those of the authors and do not reflect the views of the American Political Science Association or Protect Democracy. 


The ultimate purpose of this Task Force is to provide a comprehensive understanding of the ways in which political parties can be responsible promoters of democracy, to prevent a decline into a more authoritarian form of government. The Task Force will achieve this goal by highlighting insights rooted in the academic literature that can inform policy development and strategy. The idea for this task force was the result of two separate but parallel sets of conversations—one that began during my presidency of APSA, and one that preceded it. Both were motivated by a profound concern with the state of democracy not only in the United States, but in the world. More importantly, we were all concerned with the lamentable role our political parties have played in undermining democracy, rather than strengthening it. The first conversation was with David Lublin, who mentioned to me that the time was right for APSA to issue some kind of report about the state of our democracy—something akin to the famous 1950 report of APSA’s Committee on Political Parties, “Toward a More Responsible Two-Party System.”

Key insights from the report include:

  • Features of the current campaign environment, from campaign finance regulations to changes in media, have made it harder for political parties to fulfill their roles. 
  • American political parties are easy to join, opening them to new voices and interests but also leaving them vulnerable to capture by those with authoritarian objectives. 
  • Racial realignment between the major parties has been growing for decades, changing the way the parties see the political landscape and their incentives for action. In the 2016 presidential election, non-White voters comprised roughly 45% of the Democratic vote, compared with less than 15% of Republican voters. 
  • Political parties are vital to modern democracy and reform efforts should take their essential roles seriously.
About Protect Democracy
Protect Democracy is a cross-ideological nonprofit group dedicated to defeating the authoritarian threat, building more resilient democratic institutions, and protecting our freedom and liberal democracy. Our experts and advocates use litigation, legislative and communications strategies, technology, research, and analysis to stand up for free and fair elections, the rule of law, fact-based debate, and a better democracy for future generations.

Website: https://protectdemocracy.org