Last Congress Most Polarized in 3 Decades

Friday, 25 Feb 2011 08:18 PM

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The 111th Congress that had Democratic majorities in both chambers was the most politically polarized the National Journal has ever seen in its annual study of members’ votes. In 28 years of tracking yeas congress,polarized,national,journaland nays along a liberal-to-conservative spectrum, the Journal found the last Congress to be the most sharply divided ever along party lines.

The middle ground that once contained dozens of Democrats and Republicans with overlapping votes has almost emptied out.

In the Senate, the most conservative Democrat still voted slightly to the left, overall, of the most liberal Republican. In the House, just five Republicans finished 2010 with more liberal voting records than the most conservative House Democrat, while just four Democrats voted more conservatively than the most liberal Republican.

“The results document another leap forward in the fusion of ideology and partisanship that has remade Congress over the last three decades,” the Journal reports.

Observers see multiple causes: redrawn congressional districts that are less culturally mixed and more politically one-sided; more party discipline within the two caucuses; more ideologically motivated voters; more partisan media; and fewer shared American experiences, such as compulsory military service, that cross party lines.

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