Political Polarization Reaches Historic Highs in U.S. Congress
Political polarization of the American electorate is an often discussed topic. The concept is often used to explain political extremism and violence, but also to explain the disintegration of community spirit and mores. Many news sources have touched on the topic in the past like:
Pew’s Political Polarization in the American Public and the Atlantic’s How the American Two-Party System Became so Divided are fairly representative. In an effort to find some more data on the topic, I went to Voteview which maintains a dataset on political polarization. When the original document was written in Markdown, I knew that these folks were serious about data! They honored the tenets of reproducible research by furnishing both the data and the code. The data can be downloaded here. The data were super clean and plotted exactly like the furnished plots. Made several changes to simply the presentation and scale the y-axis from 0 to 1. Additionally, the plots were designed in an aspect ratio of 5” x 9” which is the aspect ratio of the iPhone. The charts should look really nice when viewed on an iPhone.
Three Charts on Congressional Polarization
Table 1 —Top 20 Most Polarized Sessions for the Senate
Table 2—Top 20 Most Polarized Sessions for the House