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Andrew M. Appleton and Daniel S. Ward, "Measuring Party Organization in the United States: An Assessment and a New Approach," Party Politics , 1 (January, 1995), 113-131.

First Paragraph:
Undoubtedly, something about American parties has changed in the last 30 years. On that at least, all scholars would agree. But the nature of those changes does not generate as much consensus. Marshalling much empirical evidence and a serious normative concern, one school of thought argues that parties are in a sustained period of decline and are losing their central role in the political process. Another school, marshalling much empirical evidence and a serious normative concern, has preferred to portray American parties as responding to a system-wide crisis and, by concentrating on the things that they do best, having succeeded in strengthening the part they play. The study of parties in the USA is now dominated by debates between 'declinists' and 'revivalists', each cumulating evidence through good science and each making persuasive arguments.

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Last Paragraph:
But as the din from the clash of perspectives reaches a crescendo, perhaps the time has come to ask: what is the fighting about, and what do we lack in order to reach a peaceful solution? Beyond describing the utility of archival research, we have begun the process of ascertaining the availability of such records across the 50 states (Appleton and Ward, 1995). The next stage will be to explore, classify, quantify and compare party records from a selected sample of states. Part of the goal will be to compile datasets that can help us in examining the theoretical issues of most interest to us, namely party response and innovation. But we are also interested in developing a coherent means for exploiting party archives so that the collective efforts of party scholars may lead to a comprehensive accounting of state party development based on records produced by parties themselves.