America’s political polarization in 3 charts …

The hardening political divide in Washington reminds me of an interesting analysis that NBC’s Chuck Todd did a couple of years ago.

So, let’s flashback:


It’s no secret that American politics has become increasingly – and maybe, irreversibly – polarized.

Of course, Obama lays blame on Trump and his band of ignorant deplorables.

Let’s look at some inconvenient facts from Todd’s analysis…


As Meet the Press host Chuck Todd puts it:

Polarization is no longer just polluting the system — it’s paralyzing it.

The deepening divide between the right and the left has largely hollowed out the center of American politics.

Gone are the politicians who once occupied the large “middle” and the voters who once gravitated to them.


The Pew Research Center has tracked party identity and ideology for decades.

One way they do it is by scoring the Republicans and Democrats on a 10-item scale of political values.

Based on the latest Pew data (from 2014), here’s where we stand:



What the chart means …

Democrats cluster to the left, Republicans cluster to the right.

There is less than 10% in each party leaning ideologically to the left (or right) of the other party’s median.

That’s where we are.

How did we get here?


Let’s add some historical perspective …

10 years ago, there was a divide, too, but the distance between the peaks was relatively small.


Put another way…

In 1994,a couple of years into the Clinton presidency, Pew found that 36 percent of Republicans were more liberal than the median Democrat … and 30% of Democrats were actually more conservative than the median Republican.

The blue and red curves pretty much blended together … with a big clump of folks in the center.


Then came the Bush years.

Many pundits claim that Bush forged the great divide.

But, the facts are to the contrary.


By midway through the Bush presidency, the ideological peaks had converged even closer.

The biggest area of the chart is the dark blue section … which indicates the a very middle of-the road America.


Now, let’s advance the calendar and look again at 2014.

By the 6th year of the Obama presidency, each side moved further to their extremes .

Less than 10 percent in each party overlapped ideologically with the other side.

That’s where we are now.



Todd’s coclusion

Todd observes the shifts but is silent on the obvious: the great polarization has emerged under a self-proclaimed “great unifier”.

Rather than ascribing any responsibility to former President Obama, Todd lays the fault on “big data” and its impact on political strategies.



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