RETURN to Home

Party Platforms

Policy planks culled from all past Democratic and Republican platforms


American political parties typically hold national conventions every four years to nominate their presidential candidates and to adopt their platforms. A party "platform" is a metaphor for the party's announced principles, and a "plank" is a metaphor for a specific platform statement that supports those principles.

In 1840, the Democratic National Convention published its first platform. Republicans adopted a formal platform at their first National Convention in 1856. Both parties continued to adopt platforms at their quadrennial national conventions since, except for 2020. In that year, the COVID pandemic prevented thems from holding national conventions and adopting national platforms. The American Presidency Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara provides a convenient source for all existing platforms by both parties.

I read through all the platforms to identify specific party planks, which were segments that (a) had action implications, and (b) stated or clearly implied the party's position on the issue.




3,392 planks culled from all 45 Democratic Party platforms

    This database was prepared for writing The Democratic Evolution: From Slavery to Equality: 1828-2024 (New York: Columbia University Press, forthcoming). The book analyzed changes in Democratic planks over time as the party evolved across three eras—from States-Rights (1828-1896), to Cooperative Federalism (1900-1948), to National Authority (1952-2024. The party evolved from defending slavery to pursuing equality.
2,722 planks culled from all 41 Republican Party plaforms
    This databasen accompanies The Republican Evolution: From Governing Party to Antigovernment Party, 1860-2020 (New York: Columbia University Press, 2022). The book analyzes changes in GOP planks across three eras)—Nationalism (1856-1924), Neoliberalism (1928-1960), and Ethnocentrism (1864-2020). The party evolved from practicing strong government to opposing strong government.
Book Review
Scott Appelrouth,
Envisioning America and the American self: Republican and democratic platforms, 1840-2016, London: Routledge, 2019.

My review of the only book that analyzes all existing platforms of the two major U.S. political parties.