Party Polarization in Congress

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Author: Nolan McCarty
Date: Fall 2009
From: Political Science Quarterly(Vol. 124, Issue 3)
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Document Type: Book review
Length: 604 words
Lexile Measure: 1380L

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Party Polarization in Congress by Sean Theriault. New York, Cambridge University Press, 2008. 254pp. Cloth, $80.00; paper, $24.99.

Certainly one of the big questions in American politics these days concerns the cause and consequences of partisan polarization. While some scholars question the extent to which American society is increasingly divided politically, few question that our elite political institutions, especially Congress, are afflicted with extremes of partisan and ideological rancor.

For their part, political scientists have offered a multitude of explanations. In no particular order, scholars have argued that polarization is the consequence of partisan leadership strategies, the Southern realignment, excessive gerrymandering of legislative districts, greater geographic sorting of voters, primary elections, greater economic and social inequality, the success of the conservative movement in capturing the Republican Party, and countless others. In an attempt to sort through this web of competing and complementary explanations, Sean Theriault offers an "integrated model" of partisan...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A207944215