Codebook for my database of 2,722 planks in all 41 Republican Platforms, 1856-2016
I made available 2,722 Republican Party platform planks that I culled from over 400,000 words in all 41 Republican platforms from 1856 to 2016. I prepared the database for writing The Republican Evolution: From Governing Party to Antigovernment Party, 1860-2020. That book analyzed changes in GOP planks across three eras––Nationalism (1856-1924), Neoliberalism (1928-1960), and Ethnocentrism (1964-2020)––as the party evolved from practicing strong government to opposing strong government.
"GOP" is an acronym for "Grand Old Party" and is also a synonym for the Republican Party. The GOP platforms grew from under 1,000 words in 1856 to more than 35,000 words in 2016. Most of a party platform spouts political verbiage––praising the party and denouncing the opposition. I read through the verbiage to select specific segments that (a) had action implications, and (b) implied the party's position on the issue. If the original wording was short (under 100 characters), it was captured in the plank. For example, this GOP plank from 1940––principles of a free press and free speech should apply to the radio––occupied 68 character-spaces. Otherwise the passage was rephrased and shortened to fit the allotted space (100 character-spaces) allotted for plak texts..
All planks were coded into a framework hsving over 100 codes spread over eight major categories. The primary categories reflected the three core political values of Freedom, Order, or Equality, or whether the planks promoted/inhibited the provision of Public Goods. These four concepts are explicated in Janda et al.,The Challenge of Democracy: American Government in G;obal Politics (2023), Chapter 1. A secondary set of four coding categories tagged planks on Government, Military, Foreign Policy, and Symbolic issues. Only about two-thirds of the planks were coded using the book's four primary categories, but appendices accounted for all 2,722 planks.
I designed my coding framework to study the party's evolution concerning values that I deemed important to democratic government. My codes may not be useful to other researchers, but they can read the planks and recode them. All Republican planks were also tagged with scores of topic terms (e.g., interior, government, veterans) offering other ways for analyzing the data.
Identifying planks among the political verbiage is a subjective process. I detected 8 planks among the 952 words in the 1856 Republican platform and 170 planks among the 35,467 words in the party's 2016 platform. Other researchers might have identified different planks in each platform and almost certainly would have found more, or less, than the 2,722 planks that I did. Different sets of GOP planks collected by other researchers, however, are unlikely to differ much from mine.
To request an Excel file of the Democratic planks, please write me at firstname.lastname@example.org, briefly mentioning your purpose and institutional affiliation.
Click on the links below for more on the planks