The Republican party under Ronald Reagan has shaped a fragile majority in presidential elections whose strength and vitality will be tested in 1988. In terms of partisan allegiance, the GOP has made striking gains over the past five years, reaching near-parity with the Democratic party for the first
time since the late 1940s. None of the prospective candidates—Vice-President George Bush, New York Representative Jack Kemp, Kansas Senator Robert Dole, Nevada Senator Paul Laxalt—has demonstrated the political appeal of Ronald Reagan; for any one of these politicians to win against a credible Democratic candidate will require the conversion of what has been the Reagan coalition into a Republican coalition. The success or failure of the 1988 Republican nominee is likely to be, in effect, a gauge of realignment.
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