Advertisement

Public Choice

, Volume 176, Issue 1–2, pp 133–151 | Cite as

The ideological nationalization of partisan subconstituencies in the American States

  • Devin Caughey
  • James Dunham
  • Christopher Warshaw
Article

Abstract

Since the mid-twentieth century, elite political behavior in the United States has become much more nationalized. In Congress, for example, within-party geographic cleavages have declined, roll-call voting has become more one-dimensional, and Democrats and Republicans have diverged along this main dimension of national partisan conflict. The existing literature finds that citizens have only weakly and belatedly mimicked elite trends. We show, however, that a different picture emerges if we focus not on individual citizens, but on the aggregate characteristics of geographic constituencies. Using biennial estimates of the economic, racial, and social policy liberalism of the average Democrat and Republican in each state over the past six decades, we demonstrate a surprisingly close correspondence between mass and elite trends. Specifically, we find that: (1) ideological divergence between Democrats and Republicans has widened dramatically within each domain, just as it has in Congress; (2) ideological variation across senators’ partisan subconstituencies is now explained almost completely by party rather than state, closely tracking trends in the Senate; and (3) economic, racial, and social liberalism have become highly correlated across partisan subconstituencies, just as they have across members of Congress. Overall, our findings contradict the reigning consensus that polarization in Congress has proceeded much more rapidly and extensively than polarization in the mass public.

Keywords

Representation Public opinion Ideology Nationalization Congress State politics 

JEL Classification

D72 H1 R50 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We are grateful for helpful conversations with Chris Tausanovitch and for feedback from Howard Rosenthal and participants at the 2016 ASU Goldwater Conference on Campaigns, Elections and Representation and the 2016 Midwest Political Science Association and American Political Science Association conferences. We appreciate the research assistance of Melissa Meek, Rob Pressel, Stephen Brown, Alex Copulsky, Kelly Alexander, Aneesh Anand, Tiffany Chung, Emma Frank, Joseff Kolman, Mathew Peterson, Charlotte Swasey, Lauren Ullmann, Amy Wickett, Julie Kim, Julia Han, Olivia H. Zhao, Mustafa Ben, Szabolcs Kiss, and Dylan DiGiacomo-Stumm. Upon publication, the data and code necessary to replicate the analysis in this article will be posted in the Harvard Dataverse.

Supplementary material

11127_2018_543_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (168 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 168 KB)

References

  1. Abramowitz, A. I., & Saunders, K. L. (2008). Is polarization a myth? Journal of Politics, 70(2), 542–555.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adams, G. D. (1997). Abortion: Evidence of an issue evolution. American Journal of Political Science, 41(3), 718–737.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Adler, E. S., & Wilkerson, J. (2017). Congressional bills project. National Science Foundation grants 880066 and 880061. http://www.congressionalbills.org/download.html.
  4. Aldrich, J. H., Montgomery, J. M., & Sparks, D. B. (2014). Polarization and ideology: Partisan sources of low dimensionality in scaled roll call analyses. Political Analysis, 22(4), 435–456.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ansolabehere, S., Rodden, J., & Snyder, J. M, Jr. (2008). The strength of issues: Using multiple measures to gauge preference stability, ideological constraint, and issue voting. American Political Science Review, 102(2), 215–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ansolabehere, S., Snyder, J. M, Jr., & Stewart, C, I. I. I. (2001). Candidate positioning in U.S. House elections. American Journal of Political Science, 45(1), 136–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bafumi, J., & Herron, M. C. (2010). Leapfrog representation and extremism: A study of American voters and their members in Congress. American Political Science Review, 104(3), 519–542.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bonica, A., Rosenthal, H., Blackwood, K., & Rothman, D. J. (2017). Ideological sorting of professionals: Evidence from the geographic and career decisions of physicians. Working paper available at http://as.nyu.edu/content/dam/nyu-as/econ/documents/2017-fall/papers_fall-2017/political-economy-fall-2017/Rosenthal_Political_Sorting.pdf.
  9. Bowler, S., & Segura, G. (2011). The future is ours: Minority politics, political behavior, and the multiracial era of American politics. Washington, DC: CQ Press.Google Scholar
  10. Broockman, D. E. (2016). Approaches to studying policy representation. Legislative Studies Quarterly, 41(1), 181–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brunell, T. L., & Grofman, B. (2018). Using US Senate delegations from the same state as paired comparisons: Evidence for a Reagan realignment. PS: Political Science and Politics.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S1049096518000409.Google Scholar
  12. Carmines, E. G., & Stimson, J. A. (1989). Issue evolution: Race and the transformation of American politics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Caughey, D., & Schickler, E. (2016). Substance and change in congressional ideology: NOMINATE and its alternatives. Studies in American Political Development, 30(2), 128–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Caughey, D., & Warshaw, C. (2015). Dynamic estimation of latent opinion using a hierarchical group-level IRT model. Political Analysis, 23(2), 197–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Caughey, D., & Warshaw, C. (2018). Policy preferences and policy change: Dynamic responsiveness in the American states, 1936–2014. American Political Science Review: Pre-published.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003055417000533.
  16. Caughey, D., Xu, Y., & Warshaw, C. (2017). Incremental democracy: The policy effects of partisan control of state government. Journal of Politics, 79(4), 1342–1358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Clinton, J. D. (2006). Representation in Congress: Constituents and roll calls in the 106th House. Journal of Politics, 68(2), 397–409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Converse, P. E. (2000). Assessing the capacity of mass electorates. Annual Review of Political Science, 3, 331–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. DeSilver, D. (2018). Split U.S. Senate delegations have become less common in recent years. Pew Research Center. http://pewrsr.ch/2lURzrp.
  20. Downs, A. (1957). An economic theory of democracy. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  21. Dunham, J., Caughey, D., & Warshaw, C. (2016). dgo: Dynamic estimation of group-level opinion. R package version 0.2.3. https://jamesdunham.github.io/dgo/.
  22. Epstein, L. D. (1982). Party confederations and political nationalization. Publius, 12(4), 67–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Erikson, R. S., Wright, G. C., & McIver, J. P. (1989). Political parties, public opinion, and state policy in the United States. American Political Science Review, 83(3), 729–750.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Erikson, R. S., Wright, G. C., & McIver, J. P. (2006). Public opinion in the states: A quarter century of change and stability. In J. E. Cohen (Ed.), Public opinion in state politics (pp. 229–253). Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Erskine, H. G. (1964). The polls: Some gauges of conservatism. Public Opinion Quarterly, 28(1), 154–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Feinstein, B. D., & Schickler, E. (2008). Platforms and partners: The civil rights realignment reconsidered. Studies in American Political Development, 22(1), 1–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Fenno, R. F. (1978). Home style: House members in their districts. Boston: Longman Publishing Group Harlow.Google Scholar
  28. Fiorina, M. P., Abrams, S. J., & Pope, J. C. (2005). Culture war?. New York: Pearson Longman.Google Scholar
  29. Fowler, A., & Hall, A. B. (2016). The elusive quest for convergence. Quarterly Journal of Political Science, 11(1), 131–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Fowler, A., & Hall, A. B. (2017). Long-term consequences of election results. British Journal of Political Science, 47(2), 351–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Ghitza, Y., & Gelman, A. (2014). The great society, Reagan’s revolution, and generations of presidential voting. Unpublished working paper available at http://www.stat.columbia.edu/~gelman/research/unpublished/cohort_voting_20140605.pdf.
  32. Green, D., Palmquist, B., & Schickler, E. (2002). Partisan hearts and minds: Political parties and the social identities of voters. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Grofman, B. (2004). Downs and two-party convergence. Annual Review of Political Science, 7, 25–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Highton, B., & Kam, C. D. (2011). The long-term dynamics of partisanship and issue orientations. Journal of Politics, 73(1), 202–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hill, S. J., & Tausanovitch, C. (2015). A disconnect in representation? Comparison of trends in congressional and public polarization. Journal of Politics, 77(4), 1058–1075.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hopkins, D. (2018). The increasingly United States. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hopkins, D. J., & Schickler, E. (2016). The nationalization of U.S. political parties, 1932–2014. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Philadelphia, PA, September 3.Google Scholar
  38. Jacobson, G. C. (2012). The electoral origins of polarized politics: Evidence from the 2010 Cooperative Congressional Election Study. American Behavioral Scientist, 56(12), 1612–1630.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Jessee, S. A. (2009). Spatial voting in the 2004 presidential election. American Political Science Review, 103(1), 59–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Key, V. O, Jr. (1964). Politics, parties & pressure groups. New York: Crowell.Google Scholar
  41. Layman, G. C., & Carsey, T. M. (2002). Party polarization and ‘conflict extension’ in the American electorate. American Journal of Political Science, 46(4), 786–802.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Layman, G. C., Carsey, T. M., & Horowitz, J. M. (2006). Party polarization in American politics: Characteristics, causes, and consequences. Annual Review of Political Science, 9, 83–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lee, D. S., Moretti, E., & Butler, M. J. (2004). Do voters affect or elect policies? Evidence from the U.S. House. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 119(3), 807–859.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Lenz, G. (2012). Follow the leader? How voters respond to politicians’ performance and policies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Levendusky, M. S. (2009a). The microfoundations of mass polarization. Political Analysis, 17, 162–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Levendusky, M. S. (2009b). The partisan sort: How liberals became Democrats and conservatives became Republicans. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Levitt, S. D. (1996). How do senators vote? Disentangling the role of voter preferences, party affiliation, and senator ideology. American Economic Review, 86(3), 425–441.Google Scholar
  48. Lunch, W. M. (1987). The nationalization of American politics. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  49. Martin, A. D., & Quinn, K. M. (2002). Dynamic ideal point estimation via Markov chain Monte Carlo for the U.S. Supreme Court, 1953–1999. Political Analysis, 10(2), 134–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Martin, A. D., Quinn, K. M., & Park, J. H. (2011). MCMCpack: Markov chain Monte Carlo in R. Journal of Statistical Software, 42(9), 1–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. McCarty, N., Poole, K. T., & Rosenthal, H. (2009). Does gerrymandering cause polarization? American Journal of Political Science, 53(3), 666–680.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Mickey, R. W. (2015). Paths out of Dixie: The democratization of authoritarian enclaves in America’s Deep South. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Mummolo, J., & Nall, C. (2017). Why partisans do not sort: The constraints on political segregation. The Journal of Politics, 79(1), 45–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Paddock, J. (1992). Inter-party ideological differences in eleven state parties: 1956–1980. Western Political Quarterly, 45(3), 751–760.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Peress, M. (2013). Candidate positioning and responsiveness to constituent opinion in the U.S. House of Representatives. Public Choice, 156(1–2), 77–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Petrocik, J. R. (1987). Realignment: New party coalitions and the nationalization of the South. Journal of Politics, 49(2), 347–375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Poole, K. T. (1998). Recovering a basic space from a set of issue scales. American Journal of Political Science, 42(3), 954–993.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Poole, K. T., & Rosenthal, H. (1984). The polarization of American politics. Journal of Politics, 46(4), 1061–1079.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Poole, K. T., & Rosenthal, H. (1985). A spatial model for legislative roll call analysis. American Journal of Political Science, 29(2), 357–384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Poole, K. T., & Rosenthal, H. (2007). Ideology & Congress. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar
  61. Schattschneider, E. E. (1942). Party government. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  62. Schickler, E. (2013). New Deal liberalism and racial liberalism in the mass public, 1937–1968. Perspectives on Politics, 11(1), 75–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Shafer, B. E., & Claggett, W. J. M. (1995). The two majorities: The issue context of modern American politics. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press Press.Google Scholar
  64. Shor, B., & McCarty, N. (2011). The ideological mapping of American legislatures. American Political Science Review, 105(3), 530–551.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Stimson, J. A. (2015). Tides of consent: How public opinion shapes American politics (2nd ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Tausanovitch, C., & Warshaw, C. (2013). Measuring constituent policy preferences in Congress, state legislatures and cities. Journal of Politics, 75(2), 330–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Treier, S., & Hillygus, D. S. (2009). The nature of political ideology in the contemporary electorate. Public Opinion Quarterly, 73(4), 679–703.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceMITCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceGeorge Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations