How Republicans and Democrats Discriminate


Ezra Klein and Alvin Chang in Vox:

For Shanto Iyengar, director of Stanford's political communications lab, the marriage polls were yet more evidence that something important was changing in American politics.

The big institutions and broad outlines of our political system have been so stable for so long that it makes it hard for people to see when the tectonic plates of American politics are actually shifting. There's been a Democratic Party and a Republican Party for most of the country's history, and they've always bickered, so it's easy to assume — particularly in a country with a short historical memory — that the partisanship we see now is simply how it's always been.

But Iyengar was coming to believe that today's political differences were fundamentally different from yesterday's political differences; the nature of American political partisanship, he worried, was mutating into something more fundamental, and more irreconcilable, than what it had been in the past.

Political scientists have mainly studied polarization as an ideological phenomenon — in this view, party polarization is really another term for political disagreement, and more polarization simply meant more severe disagreements. But it's hard to find the evidence that the disagreements among ordinary Americans have really become so much more intense.

“If you look at Americans' positions on the issues, they are much closer to the center than their elected representatives,” Iyengar says. “The people who end up getting elected are super extreme, but the voters are not.”

But even as American voters remained relatively centrist, they seemed to be getting angrier and more fearful of the other side.

More here.