Political Polarization At The Elite Level Essay

1088 Words Oct 23rd, 2016 5 Pages
As the 2016 presidential election day looms closer, the question arises of whether the mass public has become increasingly divided in values and beliefs. In other words, will citizens on both sides of the political spectrum view the winning candidate as having the nation’s best interests in mind? Scholars disagree whether the mass public in the United States has become increasingly politically polarized over recent decades. According to one school of thought, the American public has not become more polarized. Measures of polarization erroneously conflate citizens’ actions (votes) with ideologies. Votes are not a direct measure of citizens’ issue positions, as votes take into account candidates’ ideologies as well as citizens’ issue positions. On the other side, researchers suspect that parties and their members have grown increasingly divided on major policy dimensions in American politics. This literature review will not discuss political polarization at the elite level (Hetherington 2001). Additionally, this literature review will not discuss the causes of polarization (Layman et. al 2006; McCarty et. al 2009), instead sticking to the descriptive question of whether or not it is growing.
DiMaggio, an expert on American politics, defines polarization as a state and a process. As a state, polarization means the extent to which opinions on an issue oppose each other. As a process, polarization refers to an increase in such opposition (DiMaggio et al. 1998: 693). Fiorina et.…

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