Educating the Public on Evidence-based methods for improving inter-group civility.

Posts Tagged states

Measuring State Polarization

Boris Shor and Nolan McCarty have produced a graph showing the polarization of the states compared to Congress. It's seems clear enough that polarization is a real problem in many states but breaking down ideology at the state level has proven tricky. As Shor points out:

…each state in its own way is rather unique. Massachusetts Republicans aren’t the same as Texas Republicans; the same is true for each state’s Democrats. Nor do they vote on the same things.

Eyeing the graph it appears that around 30 states are either equally polarized or more polarized than Congress. Worth noting is that ideological polarization does not necessarily translate into gridlock. The key in-grid-ient is party parity; e.g., California is polarized to a degree that our hyper-partisan Congress can't hope to match but because Democrats dominate so thoroughly the government least according to Democrats.

Be that as it may we must bid Shor and McCarty safe traveling as they venture forth for the Rosetta Stone of state polarization:

All in all, polarization varies fairly dramatically across states.  The natural question is: why? Nolan McCarty and I–along with some coauthors–are engaged in a number of different research projects to try to answer that very question, as are a number of other scholars.

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Ever Redder More Truly Blue: The Fate of States

Fred Hiatt laments the state of the states of the nation. We are out of sorts because we are in sorts.  The states' polarized takes on abortion, gays, and guns have us living in different worlds. Only a few purple states remain:

In 2012, only four (Florida, Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina) were decided by five percentage points or fewer.

Disturbed though he be there is hope that attitudes and populations may shift:

The migration of foreign-born families into the heartland, for example, may help make immigration reform more achievable than it would be if immigrants were clustered only in traditional coastal cities. And, as Third Way’s Matt Bennett pointed out to me, polls show voters often are more moderate than their politicians, even in deep blue or bright red states.

[Compare this recent post   where I quote Samuel Abrams (via Bill Keller) to the effect that at the state level highly engaged elites are the polarizers.]

Hiatt doesn’t think redistricting will help the national elections so much:

And while congressional gerrymandering amplifies the effect of the division, even fair redistricting would not bridge the chasm, as Rob Richie explained in a Post op-ed last fall. (Richie’s solution: Create multi-member House districts, so that the minority party in any given region could elect at least one out of three legislators.)

[But then Thomas F. Schaller believes single-member districts are here to stay. The map itself is the problem.]

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