Very interesting article in the Washington Post today: The first piece of a three part series on political division in the Nation:
“Hans Noel, a political scientist at the University of California at Los Angeles, is the author of a paper called “The Road to Red and Blue America.” In an interview, he said, “Most people say they are ‘moderate,’ but in fact the country is polarized around strong conservative and liberal positions.” For the first time in generations, he said, those philosophical lines correspond to party lines. The once-hardy species of conservative Democrats — so numerous in the 1980s they had a name, “Reagan Democrats” — is now on the endangered list, along with the liberal “Rockefeller Republicans.”
“It has taken 40 or 50 years to work itself out, but the ideological division in America — which is not new — is now lined up with the party division,” Noel said.
At the same time, more and more Americans in a highly mobile society are choosing to live among like-minded people. University of Maryland political demographer James Gimpel has documented the rise of a “patchwork nation,” in which political like attracts like, and ideologically diverse communities are giving way to same-thinking islands. A recent analysis sponsored by the Austin American-Statesman, comparing the photo-finish elections of 1976 and 2000, made this clear. While the nationwide results were extremely close, nearly twice as many voters now live in counties where one candidate or the other won by a landslide. Person by person, family by family, America is engaging in voluntary political segregation.”
We have become a polarized country, and the political parties are only accentuating the differences between Americans:
“This split is nurtured by the marketing efforts of the major parties, which increasingly aim pinpoint messages to certain demographic groups, rather than seeking broadly appealing new themes. It is reinforced by technology, geography and strategy. And now it is driving the presidential campaign, and explains why many experts anticipate a particularly bitter and divisive election.”
I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of this . . .
Political Split Is Pervasive
Clash of Cultures Is Driven by Targeted Appeals and Reinforced by Geography
David Von Drehle
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 25, 2004; Page A01