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Party Polarization In American Politics Characteristics, Causes, and Consequences.pdf

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Political Science
CAS PO 331
Kate Krimmel

"Party Polarization In American Politics: Characteristics, Causes, and Consequences" Tuesday, February 18, 2014 10:41 PM I. Historical, Theoretical, and Recent Perspectives on Party Polarization ○ "Conflictdisplacement" : New crosscuttingissue emerges and parties become polarized on it, makingthe previous issue converge  Parties are polarized on one majority policy agenda at a time ○ First set of issues associated with partisan change were civil rights and racial equality ○ Second set of issues were cultural and moral concerns that includes abortion,homosexual rights and school prayer ○ The two parties are growing increasingly more "polarized" ○ "Conflictextension" - Current parties have grown increasingly divided on all the major policy II. Conflict Extension, Not Conflict Displacement ○ Welfare issues have emerged as the new center of the polarization  Should the gov't take an active role in fosteringsocial and economic equality? ○ Party polarization has grown on domestic concerns, defense and foreign policy ○ New partisan conflicts have not displaced old ones; party conflict has extended from older to newer issues III. The Parties in Government ○ Measure of growth of partisanshipand polarization in Congress  Percentage of party votes  Party unity scores  Interest group rating of members' voting records  NOMINATE scores of member ideology ○ Growing party polarizationon congressionalcommittees and member's support for presidential initiatives ○ Party conflict in Congress is shaped around liberal-conservative cleavage IV. Causes of Party Polarization in Congress 1. Social changes gives different socio-economicdemographicprofiles for the parties' constituents  Rates of Hispanicimmigration  Increasing income inequality  Growing residential segregation along racial/class lines  Increasing residential mobility and self-selection 2. Party strategies within Congress and power of party leaders  Members have policy goals, but reelection is proximateconcern  Electoral environment decides how willing members are to give up authority □ When party interests are broad, they are less willing to follow a leader so they can better represent their constituents □ Authority gives power to leaders to coerce moderates to vote with the party  Individual members are moving more towards extreme ideologies due to pressure V. The Parties in The Electorate ○ Polarization between the parties has grown but the extent of it is severely exaggerated  Data shows different location of the graph on the conservatism scale, but similar pattern VI. Theoretical Perspectives on Mass Party Polarization ○ Nature of the mass response 1. "Conflictdisplacement" View □ When party leaders take distinct stands on a new set of issues, individuals change their party ties in response to the new issues, RATHER THAN, changing their issue attitudes based on their party ties  Issues at the center of partisanship are the ones which people are least likely to change their minds on 2. "Ideological realignment" View □ Makes 3 assumptionsor basic findings Makes 3 assumptionsor basic findings □ 1) Parties in the electorate have grown more polarized along ideological lines 2) Parties have become structured along the same single liberal-conservative dimension that defines "elite-level party conflict" ◊ Uses one-dimensional indicators of mass ideology 3) There has been an "ideological realignment": Individuals are increasingly choosing a party affiliation based on heir ideological orientations ◊ Does not rule out "partisan persuasion": Individuals changing their ideologies and policy attitudes to make them consistent with their party ties 3. "Conflictextension" View (More accurate view of the 3) □ Attitudes towards welfare, social, racial and cultural issues are distinct but crosscutting  Due to crosscutting, as individuals increasingly choose party identifications based on the new issues, the level of party polarization of the old issues should decline ◊ Example: Conservative on welfare but liberal on cultural  Welfare and abortion can be conflicting ○ Electorate's response to "elite-level party polarization" has been limited 1. Party identifiers
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