I will be off line for the next several days, doing the college tours, but wanted to briefly follow up on several emails I’ve received regarding polarization in Congress. Some of you have asked if things really are more polarized today than in previous years. The short answer is “yes”. As evidence, consider the following chart, which compares the ideology of members of Congress at the end of the Clinton administration with those serving during the Kennedy administration. (Again, all calculations based on DW-Nominate scores, as explained in previous posts.)
As you can see the moderate middle has gradually disappeared. During the Kennedy Administration, maybe 30 Republicans and more than 100 Democrats had essentially overlapping ideologies, based on their voting records. The situation, as you know from my previous posts, has only worsened since then. How (and why) did this happen? That will be the topic of my next post.