Party Polarization in Congress

by Sean M. Theriault

The political parties in Congress are as polarized as they have been in 100 years. This book examines more than 30 years of congressional history to understand how it is that the Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill have become so divided. It finds that two steps were critical for this development. First, the respective parties' constituencies became more politically and ideologically aligned. Second, members ceded more power to their party leaders, who implemented procedures more frequently and with greater consequence. In fact, almost the entire rise in party polarization can be accounted for in the increasing frequency of and polarization on procedures used during the legislative process.

  • Cambridge University Press; August 2008
  • ISBN: 9780511433818
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF or secure ePub format
  • Title: Party Polarization in Congress
  • Author: Sean M. Theriault
  • Imprint: Cambridge University Press

In The Press

“Sean Theriault has done something far too rare in the study of American politics: provided a truly synthetic account of a vital political development, the dramatic polarization of Congress over the last generation. Mixing rigorous analysis with revealing stories and careful consideration of alternative explanations, Theriault’s book is a one-stop source for those wishing to understand why Republicans and Democrats just can't get along in the modern Congress.”
-Jacob S. Hacker, Professor of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley