Political style among party activists in Texas : A study of delegates to the 1972 Democratic and Republican state conventions



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Delegates to the 1972 state conventions of the Republican and Democratic parties of Texas and Texas delegates to the 1972 national conventions provided the focus Cor a study of political style among state party activists. Five underlying attitudes were utilized for identifying amateur, semiprofessional, and professional political style, attitudes toward: (1) party, (2) issues, (3) compromise, (4) electoral victory, and (5) intraparty democracy. It was postulated that political style is the result of interaction of social, psychological, and environmental factors. Stylistic groups were contrasted on the following variables: social background characteristics, personality traits, socialization experiences, ideology, incentive structures, and party involvement. From the social characteristics investigated (sex, age, race, religion, education, occupational status, community type, and integration into community life), only age was related to amateurism. Youth was associated with amateur style for Republicans and for Democrats pledged to the candidacy of George McGovern. Scores on the 24 scales of the Gough and Heilbrun Adjective Check List revealed similar personality profiles for delegates of all styles of both parties, with delegates scoring high on such traits as aggression, self-confidence, and self-awareness. The marked differences between delegate profiles and standardized scores (representing characteristics of the general population) on a number of traits suggested the presence of an "activist" personality. For most delegates, closure to political stimuli in the parental home was higher than would be ejected in the average home, but professionals much more than amateurs reported growing up in families where frequent political participation was the norm. Among Republicans and McGovern delegates, amateurs were considerably more prone to mark non- personal influences (events, issues) as important in their political development. Ideological direction was not related to amateurism in either party; Republicans of all styles indicated conservative leanings, and Democratic amateurs and professionals included liberals, moderates, and conservatives. Ideological intensity was no more characteristic of amateurs than professionals, except for Wallace delegates who displayed a general tendency to give intense responses to ideological statements. In explaining initial attraction to party activity, purposive and material incentives were not useful for dividing amateurs and professionals. All delegates indicated an interest in purposive goals; few sought material rewards. Solidary attractions, especially party attachment and the enjoyment of social contacts, were much more frequently marked by professionals than amateurs. A dynamic quality of sustaining motivations was suggested by the finding that younger delegates with fewer years of party activity tended to put emphasis on personally-oriented motivations, but with longer party service and greater age, the emphasis shifted to nonpersonal motives. Most of the party-involvement variables were related to political style. Professionals tended to typify the traditional party activist, loyally supporting the party by contributing time, money, and emotional support. Amateurs were more likely to be newcomers to party work and were more likely to view the party as a means of attaining particular goals rather than as an entity to be supported. Texas delegates to the Democratic National Convention of 1972 closely resembled the sample of delegates to the state convention on measures of demographic and preferential representativeness and on most of the measures of party involvement. The Texas delegation to the Republican National Convention tended to be older, to be more professional in political style, to hold high status occupations with greater frequency, and to claim a higher degree of party involvement when compared with delegates attending only the state convention.



State conventions, Texas, Delegates