Thursday, October 22, 2015

Washington Post: Moderate Republicans are an endangered species

The following article appeared in the Washington Post on Oct 13 and we thought it interesting enough to share with everyone.

This astonishing chart shows how moderate Republicans are an endangered species

Political scientists have known for years that political polarization is largely a one-sided phenomenon: in recent decades the Republican Party has moved to the right much faster than Democrats have moved to the left. As Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution has described it, "Republicans have become a radical insurgency—ideologically extreme, contemptuous of the inherited policy regime, scornful of compromise, unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of their political opposition."

The data backing this claim up are pretty solid. The most widely-used measure of political polarization, a score of ideology based on voting developed by Kenneth Poole and Howard Rosenthal, has shown that the Republicans in the Senate and especially the House have drifted away from the center far more rapidly than Democrats. The chart below, taken from the most recent slice of their data released just last month, illustrate this pretty clearly:


Right around 1975, the Republican party sharply turned away from the center line and hasn't looked back. The Democrats have been drifting away from the center too, but nowhere near as quickly.

Every once in awhile an op-ed writer will come along and make a qualitative argument along the lines of "no, really, it's the Democrats who are polarizing!" Peter Wehner, a former official in three previous Republican presidential administrations, did just that in the pages of the New York Times last week. His argument amounts to the notion that since President Obama has pursued some policies that are more liberal than Bill Clinton's, "the Democratic Party has moved substantially further to the left than the Republican Party has shifted to the right."

Well, no -- just look at the chart above! Here's another way of looking at it: How many moderates are in each party? Here's another interesting chart from the Poole-Rosenthal data, showing the number of House members in each party who are not centrists -- that is, whose ideological scores put them on the more extreme ends of the partisan scale.

As you can see, in the most recent Congress nearly 90 percent of Republican House members are not politically moderate. By contrast, 90 percent of Democratic members are moderates. It's quite difficult to square a chart like this with a claim that Democrats are abandoning the center faster than Republicans. As the chart shows, there are plenty of centrist Democrats left in the House -- but hardly any centrist Republicans.

It's worth pointing out that none of this is happening in a vacuum -- House Republicans are become more extreme because Republican voters are electing more extreme candidates. We see many of these same patterns playing out among the electorate as well, as a massive Pew Research Study demonstrated last year.
Christopher Ingraham writes about politics, drug policy and all things data. He previously worked at the Brookings Institution and the Pew Research Center.

Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next