How politically divided are ordinary Americans? The recent release of a report on polarization in public opinion by the Pew Research Center has reignited a debate among journalists and academics about the depth of the divisions between supporters of the two major parties. One of the key findings of the report is that supporters of the two parties hold increasingly negative feelings toward the opposing party and its leaders. While some scholars like Morris Fiorina of Stanford University have disputed the significance of these findings, an examination of evidence from the American National Election Studies provides strong support for the conclusions of the Pew study.
Democrats face several challenges in trying to maintain their majority in the U.S. Senate in the 2014 midterm election. In addition to the normal tendency of the president’s party to lose seats in midterm elections, Democrats are defending 21 of the 36 seats that are up this year including seven seats in states that were carried by Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election. Moreover, six of those seats are in states that Romney carried by a double-digit margin.
How deep is the class divide in American politics today? According to some scholars and pundits, it is very deep indeed. In a recent post on the Washington Post ’s Monkey Cage blog, Larry Bartels of Vanderbilt University, the author of Unequal Democracy and a highly regarded public opinion scholar, presented evidence from a multi-nation public opinion survey that showed the relationship between income and support for cuts in government spending was considerably stronger in the U.S. than in other industrial democracies. Because of the disproportionate political influence wielded by upper-income citizens in the U.S., Bartels argued that their strong support for spending cuts has had a powerful influence on elite attitudes and ultimately on government policies.
Between 1932 and 1994, Democrats controlled the U.S. House of Representatives for 58 of 62 years. Since then, however, party control has changed three times, with Republicans controlling the House from 1995 through 2006, Democrats from 2007 through 2010, and Republicans since then.
Barack Obama's victory in the 2008 presidential election represented one of the most dramatic shifts in political power in American history. In terms of both style and substance, the contrast between Obama and George W. Bush is perhaps as great as that between any incoming and outgoing presidents in the modern era. Yet the historic nature of this election should not blind us to the high degree of consistency between the results of the 2008 election and previous elections. New evidence on the results of the 2008 presidential election at the congressional district level reinforces this point.
Americans under the age of 30 played a major role in the election of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States. According to the 2008 national exit poll, 18-29 year-olds made up 18 percent of the electorate and they cast 66 percent of their votes for Obama vs. 32 percent for his Republican rival, John McCain.
The importance of partisanship in contemporary American politics is widely recognized. Among the public as well as political leaders, party divisions run deep and it is increasingly clear that the arrival of a new President in Washington has done little to change that fundamental reality.
The election of America's first black president has been widely hailed as an historic event. However, much less attention has been paid to the demographic trends which made that event possible and which will continue to affect elections and politics in the United States far into the future. In this article I examine those trends and their consequences for the American party system.
It's not a matter of "if." It's a matter of "when." As in, when will all of the feel-good rhetoric about Democrats and Republicans joining hands to solve the nation's problems come to an end and open partisan warfare resume in Washington?
With one month remaining in the 2008 presidential campaign, national and state polling data indicate that Barack Obama holds a clear lead over John McCain.