Party Polarization

Brian F. Schaffner

in The Oxford Handbook of the American Congress

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199559947
Published online May 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of American Politics

Party Polarization

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  • US Politics
  • Political Institutions



Party polarization has been a disparate topic that has been analyzed by scholars who are studying voting behavior, public opinion, state politics, and specifically Congress. Indeed, the U.S. Congress has been one of the leading indicators of partisan polarization in the U.S. and it has remained a popular venue for studying the causes and consequences of this trend. This article reviews studies that determine the causes of congressional polarization including studies on the consequences of this polarization. It is argued that while scholars have developed a good understanding of the causes of congressional polarization, there is a lesser understanding of the consequences of such polarization. Hence this article suggests that focus should be more directed towards the consequences of polarization. By focusing on this, polarization can be view beyond votes and legislative outcomes can be elucidated in such a way deeper insight into the policymaking process can be gained. Topics discussed include limitations of partisan polarization, causes of polarization, consequences of polarization in policymaking, polarization and policy debates, polarization and congressional representation, and polarization and public views of Congress.

Keywords: party polarization; partisan polarization; congressional polarization; polarization; consequences of polarization; causes of polarization; policymaking; policy debates; congressional representation

Article.  10551 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Political Institutions

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