New Deal coalition

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The New Deal Coalition was the alignment of interest groups and voting blocs that supported the New Deal and voted for Democratic presidential candidates from 1932 until approximately 1968, which made the Democratic Party the majority party during that period, losing only to Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956. Franklin D. Roosevelt created a coalition that included the Democratic party, big city machines, labor unions, minorities (racial, ethnic and religious), liberal farm groups, intellectuals, and white Southerners. The coalition fell apart in 1968, but it remains the model that party activists seek to replicate.[1]



The 1932 election brought about major shifts in voting behavior, and became a permanent realignment, though some scholars point to the off-year 1934 election as even more decisive in stabilizing the coalition. Roosevelt set up his New Deal and forged a coalition of Big City machines, labor unions, liberals, ethnic and racial minorities (especially Catholics, Jews and African Americans) and Southern whites. These disparate voting blocs together formed a large majority of voters and handed the Democratic Party seven victories out of nine presidential elections (1932–48, 1960, 1964), as well as control of both houses of Congress during all but 4 years between the years 1932-1980 (Republicans won majorities in 1946 and 1952). Starting in the 1930s, the term “liberal” was used in U.S. politics to indicate supporters of the coalition, while "conservative" denoted its opponents. The coalition was never formally organized, and the constituent members often disagreed.

Political scientists have called the resulting new coalition the "Fifth Party System" in contrast to the Fourth Party System of the 1896-1932 era that it replaced.[2]


Roosevelt had a magnetic appeal to city dwellers, especially the poorer minorities who got recognition, unions, and relief jobs. Taxpayers, small business and the middle class voted for Roosevelt in 1936, but turned sharply against him after the recession of 1937-38 seemed to belie his promises of recovery.[3]

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