Polarized America: the dance of ideology and unequal riches
MIT Press, Jun 23, 2006 - Political Science - 240 pages
Choice Outstanding Academic Title, 2007.
The idea of America as politically polarized—that there is an unbridgeable divide between right and left, red and blue states—has become a cliche. What commentators miss, however, is that increasing polarization in recent decades has been closely accompanied by fundamental social and economic changes—most notably, a parallel rise in income inequality. In Polarized America, Nolan McCarty, Keith Poole, and Howard Rosenthal examine the relationships of polarization, wealth disparity, immigration, and other forces, characterizing it as a dance of give and take and back and forth causality.
Using NOMINATE (a quantitative procedure that, like interest group ratings, scores politicians on the basis of their roll call voting records) to measure polarization in Congress and public opinion, census data and Federal Election Commission finance records to measure polarization among the public, the authors find that polarization and income inequality fell in tandem from 1913 to 1957 and rose together dramatically from 1977 on; they trace a parallel rise in immigration beginning in the 1970s. They show that Republicans have moved right, away from redistributive policies that would reduce income inequality. Immigration, meanwhile, has facilitated the move to the right: non-citizens, a larger share of the population and disproportionately poor, cannot vote; thus there is less political pressure from the bottom for redistribution than there is from the top against it. In "the choreography of American politics" inequality feeds directly into political polarization, and polarization in turn creates policies that further increase inequality.
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Income Polarization and the Electorate
Immigration Income and the Voters Incentive
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African-American Alesina American politics analysis average behavior Bush campaign candidates census centile changes chapter citizens cloture coefficient compute Congress congressional conservative constituency contributors Current Population Survey cutpoint deadweight loss decline Democrats demographic difference districts divided government electoral estate tax estimated extreme family income Figure gridlock high-income Hispanic House polarization ideal point ideological immigration important income distribution income effect income inequality income quintiles increased individual interest group issues legislators liberal liberal-conservative majority McCarty measure median income median voter midterm minimum wages moderate National Election Study NOMINATE scores noncitizens nonvoters Note ordered probit PACs partisan identification partisanship party identification percent percentage percentile polariza Poole and Rosenthal position preferences presidential election presidential vote primary ratio redistribution regression relative income represented respondents roll call votes sample Santorum Senate significant soft money South southern Specter statistically stratification Table tax rates tion trend turnout variables