Growing US Partisanship
I think you want to read this excellent post by Jonathan Chait. That is all.
US partisanshipe appears to be the meme of the day. Dana Milbank (who is very different from Chait) also wrote about it. Milbank cites a different academic study. From the brief summaries both academic studies sound very convincing to me.
update 2: yep it’s a meme. Charlie Cook too.
update 3: Dan Balz too
end update 3
One of the more interesting changes in U.S. politics in recent years has been the increasingly parliamentary nature of voting behavior. Fewer people are straying beyond their party affiliations, we are seeing more straight-ticket voting, and the characteristics of individual candidates mean less than ever
end update 2.
I was intrigued by this passage in Milbank’s column
“Also of note is that the partisan polarization occurs even though Americans aren’t all that split on policies or ideology. Their partisanship is more tribal than anything — the result of an ill-informed electorate. ” Milbank supports this claim with a quote from Sean Westwood (one of the academics). I clicked the (pdf warning) link to the academic article. I am going to guess that the non split on politicies and ideology is of the following form — partisan Republicans agree with Democrats that rich people should pay higher taxes and that Medicare and Social Security should be expanded not cut. In other words I dare guess that the evidence of a tribal ill-informed electorate who hate the other party even though they agree with its proposed policies is asymmetric with the evidence of irrational tribalism actually evidence of irrational tribal Republicans.
Even before I check my guess, I note that my firm belief that a majority of US Republicans are ill-informed tribal and totally confused is one more data point supporting the Chait/Milbank hypothesis. I, for one, sure am a tribal Democrat. I will now check my guess and report back.
Oooops egg on my face. I can’t find anything about ideology or policy preferences in the linked article. Westwood’s statement to Milbank must be based on other evidence.
Also the paper is fascinating. It includes actual games using real money — the dictator game and the trust game. I suggest you just click the link and scroll down to that section. The results are dramatically asymmetric. The difference between sharing with and trusting partisans of the same party and of the different party are stressed in the abstract and introduction. This is Ballanced because the authors don’t stress differences between Republicans and Democrats. But the detailed results show a more dramatic difference between Republicans and Democrats than between same party vs opposite party pairs. Republicans are less generous and trusting. Republicans are more partisan (their actions differ much more depending on whether they are playing with a Republican or a Democrat). The point estimate is that Democrats are less generous with Republicans than
with other Democrats Republicans are with other Republicans, but the difference isn’t statistically significant.
In the dictator game player one (the participant) decides how to divide up some money. Given zero to the other player obviously maximizes one’s payoff, but it is rare.
Basically the asymmetry — Republicans are less generous than Democrats — is about as strong as partisanship — people are more generous with other people of the same party. Yet the symmetric result was stressed more. I think the eccellent paper shows how people bend over backwards to not appear partisan when denouncing partisanship.
“I think the eccellent paper shows how people bend over backwards to not appear partisan when denouncing partisanship.”
So the polled are sometimes deceptive, which is never a surprise to me. Political correctness has run amok in this country and they don’t want to get caught up in it. And they are perfectly capable of saying one thing and doing another when in private. The only polls that I believe are accurate are the elections we hold every 2 years.
Both political parties ‘whistle passing the graveyard’ regarding whether there are really Independents. In any conversation about politics you will hear “I am an independent”, or “I vote the man not the party”, or “I don’t want one party to control the Congress and the Presidency”. Those are not Independents speaking and their sentiments are not binding in any way.
I am an Independent.
I believe that the Republicans have become much more conservative whether it makes sense or not for the majority. They attack most government spending programs which would directly benefit the majority of human persons. I believe that a politician attacking Social Security should be seen as mentally ill, compelled to act against his own self interest. ObamaCare does not attack the most serious problem in healthcare which is easily the exploding costs. The rest of the developed world recognized that the end users have no control over costs and thus the government provides the controls. Sooner or later the federal government will do the same, ObamaCare just puts us one step closer.
I believe that the Democrats have become much more liberal whether it makes sense or not for the majority. The most recent example is their defense of ILLEGAL immigrants who seek and take jobs here. The liberal Democrats see them as another minority being discriminated against by the majority. And Democrats have the almost childlike belief that government welfare programs will not be abused. (Including Social Security Disability) Some sort of work should be required, no exceptions. BUT we should not go back to the period before the 1960s when public welfare was almost non existent. There has to be a floor where poverty is concerned and private charities are not able to provide that floor.
Both political parties coddle the Department of Defense and defense contractors, expend great energy negotiating trade agreements to protect US corporate persons regardless of the disadvantage to US human persons, and approve of deficit spending depending on where the funds are to be spent.
We are no more partisan today than we were in the run up to the Civil War. How much less is debatable.
” The only polls that I believe are accurate are the elections we hold every 2 years. ”
And if you read Chait’s article you will notice that straight ticket voting has increased at the same time the number of independents have increased. If you do the math, it quickly becomes apparent that one of those things make no sense.
I agree about the elections being the proper poll, so obviously the nonsensical thing is the rise of the number of independent voters.the vast majority of them are not independent voters, they are simply registered as independents.
While I am positive there are actually some independent voters in the US, the number is so small as to be meaningless for politicians to pursue.
I am not a Democrat, and I was born in the US, but I don’t think that makes me any more deserving of a decent life (or a job) than an immigrant. It’s true that many immigrants do take jobs, but I don’t think that is a major reason unemployment is so high. The private sector exists to make money, not to provide jobs, and will cut its workforce or move jobs overseas whenever it results in more profit (which is often). And even with the downturn of the last 7 years, the govt doesn’t have a jobs program (how could we afford huge jobs programs during the Depression, and nothing now, when we are a much richer country?) . So I’d blame that for the lack of jobs.
As far as abuse of welfare programs, I think that is tiny compared to tax avoidance (and abuse of other gov’t programs, like the military spending you mention). SSDI is not that easy to get, and doesn’t pay that much, so I think abuse there is insignificant. I think the net error goes the other way – people who should get it who don’t probably outnumber those that shouldn’t get it but do. Sure fraud should be discouraged, in SSDI and everywhere, but there’s a lot more money in going after tax cheats, which we do not do. It’s easier to go after the little guy.
EMichael wrote: “I agree about the elections being the proper poll, so obviously the nonsensical thing is the rise of the number of independent voters.the vast majority of them are not independent voters, they are simply registered as independents.”
In my home state registered Independents are not allowed to vote in the Republican or Democratic party primaries. That is a large disincentive to register as Independent. Nonetheless some do and I have since the late 1970s.
I have friends and family who say that they register as one of the major parties because they get to vote in the primaries. That is important to them because in some elections the primary winner is going win the general election since the other party or candidate is so weak.
It has been my experience that when something doesn’t make sense, it is because I don’t have enough data.
In this case, you are not considering that Independents are forced to vote for one of the two major political parties. They vote their interests by voting one way or the other, depending on each party’s departure from their ideal. There is no mechanism to determine if a single Independent always votes Democrat or always votes Republican. Unless you accept polls, and I most certainly do not.
We agree that neither major party should court Independents. I always vote and at times I have voted for alternative candidates that I would not want in the office. I will stop doing that when “None of the Above” is an option.
“Also of note is that the partisan polarization occurs even though Americans aren’t all that split on policies or ideology. Their partisanship is more tribal than anything — the result of an ill-informed electorate. ”
That is the crux of the matter. Add to that an intent to misinform those same ill-informed voters and suddenly a vast number of voters begin to vote against their own economic self interests and choose, instead, their fears and prejudices. It’s no different now than at any time in the past when those in control controlled both the economy and the media (of the day).
The French Revolution, c. 1792, M. Robespierre
“When, then, will the people be educated? When they have enough bread to eat, and when the rich and the government cease bribing treacherous pens and tongues to deceive them; when their interests are identified with those of the people. When will this be? Never.”
JimB wrote: “The private sector exists to make money, not to provide jobs, and will cut its workforce or move jobs overseas whenever it results in more profit (which is often). “
Yes, and there are elements of any society who want the right to steal, assault, and murder but the majority of us have decided that those options are undesirable and we punish those actors.
The private sector can do all that you say but that does not prevent the majority of us from deciding that huge tariffs are in order. Tariffs have been around for a very long time and only recently did we decide that importers should be able to avoid them.
Illegal immigration, such a trivial problem. Why do we have any legal immigration system at all? Why do we bother to have embassy personnel getting background checks on applicants? Why do we bother checking cars and trucks at the borders? If we are going to allow EVERYONE to sneak across our borders, and bring what they may anyway, then let’s stop ANY enforcement. Let them smuggle drugs or any other contraband. Why do we fund a huge intelligence and security system? If terrorists can just sneak across our borders and bring what they want then let’s stop ANY enforcement. Should countries have any right to regulate immigration?
The increase to the national debt, such a trivial problem. During the Great Depression the federal government ran up deficits with its jobs programs. We were running up deficits before the Great Recession and they got much worse as the government tried to stimulate the production of more jobs. That could not go on forever. The Democrats recognize almost no need for debt limits, and they would just raise taxes anyway. And the Republicans want spending limits on everything except wars.
The abuse of SSDI, such a trivial problem. The 60Minutes program was a revelation to me. I found the accusations to be very serious. The defenders of the program provide one feeble excuse after another. There is a need for this program but it can not be sustained without better controls and I am shocked that Democrats do not understand that.
Here we see 3 vivid reasons for why we have more partisanship. The population all have different world views.
The Republicans seem to believe that every single one of us is an island, completely responsible for ourselves. They want almost no government regulations except where human persons are concerned. The Democrats seem to believe that we are all one island and each one of us is responsible for all the rest. (These obligations do not even end at international borders.) This requires the government to dabble in everything.
The voters are not stupid, just conflicted. They want more government, but they just don’t want to pay for it. Or they want less government but what is left must heal the sick and raise the dead.
JimH: “The Democrats recognize almost no need for debt limits, and they would just raise taxes anyway. And the Republicans want spending limits on everything except wars.”
I don’t think this is accurate. I think the Democrats care more about the debt than Republicans do. If there was a compromise that cut the deficit using a combination of spending cuts and tax increases, I think the Democrats would be much more likely to favor it than the Republicans.
The last half of Clinton’s presidency, the US ran surpluses. When Bush took over, we immediately got tax cuts that ran up deficits. So then the GOP started complaining about deficits, but their only solution is spending cuts. And if they got deficits down in this way, they would then call for more tax cuts that would run up the deficits again.
FDR initially favored a balanced budget, which we had in the 1920s (actually, we had surpluses). That was followed by the Depression, which led to the need for deficits. However, they were modest, mostly less than $100 billion in today’s dollars. FDR cut the deficit in 1937 and 1938, which caused the economy to worsen, so he had to raise them again. Of course, then WWII came, deficits went sky high, the economy recovered and boomed for decades after the war was over.
So sometimes higher deficits are good (I would say now is such a time). I wish the Democrats didn’t care much about the debt, but I don’t see any evidence for that.(You complain that the Democrats “would just raise taxes anyway.” Well, tax increases are one way to reduce the deficit, so wanting to raise taxes is evidence for a desire to limit debt. FDR increased the top marginal rate to 94% during WWII, and it stayed above 90% into the early 1960s – and the economy boomed. So high tax rates aren’t necessarily bad.)
You wrote: “So sometimes higher deficits are good (I would say now is such a time). ”
I do not believe that now is a good time for increased deficits. I have not complained about the deficits run up in the first few years after 2008.
But there is a limit. Probably one which does not cause any immediate problems. But later when the economy really does start to recover, would cause damagingly high interest rates. (NOT hyperinflation)
Republicans should raise the income tax on everyone and double the gasoline tax. Those increases could fund infrastructure repair or replacement.
Raise taxes, increase spending on infrastructure, and further reduce deficits. A plan bound to be ridiculed by Democrats and Republicans.
The Great Depression is still misunderstood. It was brought on by excessive debt from spending to buy the new or improved consumer products. (Refrigerators, radios, and automobiles) See Charles E Person’s article titled “Credit Expansion, 1920 to 1929, and Its Lessons”, (November 1930 Quarterly Journal of Economics)
Also in 1932 Professor Irving Fischer wrote “Booms and Depressions” and in 1933 he wrote “The debt-deflation theory of great depressions”.
The economy was still in a deep depression in 1937-1938 but it was masked by deficit government spending. Falsely assuming that the recovery was on, they raised taxes and reduced deficit spending. And that unmasked the problems which still existed in the economy.
The recovery occurred with full employment from 1942 to 1945. Full employment meant that workers could demand higher wages. Combine the high wages with rationing and price controls and you can see that there would be personal savings. And there were personal savings rates over 25% for 4 years. The war ended with a large amount of accumulated personal savings. Soldiers came home and married women who had been working. In 1946 they spent their accumulated savings in setting up new households and inflation was 18%. Manufacturers quickly converted to produce consumer durable goods. The recovery was self sustaining. The statistics supporting this are readily available but the impact of the rationing is usually ignored.)
And so far the Great Recession has rhymed with that story of the Great Depression. First excessive consumer debt, then depression. (Depression masked by Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, and FDIC). Currently we are in the false sense that the recovery is on.
The modern distilled history of the Great Depression does not read that way, but trained economists of that day understood what had happened.
I believe that Keynes was the hero of the day because he pushed for increased government spending during the worst of the depression and anything that detracted from that view was purposefully forgotten. Simplifying the story.
Unfortunately some modern Keynesian economists have come to believe that the government should run deficits to stimulate the economy for as long as it takes, to include forever. Japan has proved that 23 years of accumulating government debt is not the answer.
You say you are not a Democrat but you write like one.
I think you are missing my point; Chait’s point; and the linked study’s point.
While you may be an independent and vote left or right depending on the candidate, the vast majority of registered independents do not do this.
When they vote they always vote for the same party.
EMichael wrote “I think you are missing my point; Chait’s point; and the linked study’s point.”
As I wrote before: “There is no mechanism to determine if a single Independent always votes Democrat or always votes Republican. Unless you accept polls, and I most certainly do not.”
Please explain how any of you can determine exactly how individual registered Independents are voting?
Many studies show this to be true.
And, strangely enough, the article we are talking about shows it to be true. If the increase of independents were anything but a pose for the vast majority of registered independents, the number of people voting straight party tickets would have to go down. But instead it is going up.
Doesn’t take much effort to find other studies of voting. Here’s another
EMichael wrote: “Many studies show this to be true.”
You have not answered my very simple question. I repeat “Please explain how any of you can determine exactly how individual registered Independents are voting?”
The correct answer is that NONE of you can know whether the current voter is a registered Independent nor how the voter actually votes. We use a secret ballot in this country.
The raw data MUST come from polls or assumptions about aggregated voting data. This is a problem because all kinds of problems creep in, whether intentional or not.
The simple truth is that pollsters and those who study their data are arguing about the UNKNOWABLE. They are no better than the statistician who derived a very simple formula to predict financial risk for Wall Street. And in the end, risk assessment was so horrible that they crashed the home mortgage market, and the housing market.
You assume that since voting straight party tickets is on the increase, it must mean that Independents are the cause.
1. But It is much more likely that registered Democrat and Republican voters have been becoming more and more radicalized, and thus unwilling to vote for any candidate from the opposing party.
2. Independents are only a small part of the electorate and a small change in the voting of registered partisan voters would overwhelm the Independents influence.
3. Independents are voters who become so upset with both parties that they refuse to affiliate with them. In any particular election it is possible that a large number of them move to one party or the other, only to reverse course in the next election. This is UNKNOWABLE.
And those 3 are just the ones, instantly popping to mind.
I don’t really understand why this is so important to you. We agree that neither major party should court Independents.
I believe that both major parties are nervous about Independents because they could influence some future election. So they both ‘whistle passing the graveyard’. Reassuring themselves that all is well. In the grand scheme of things, nothing that they say or write about how Independents vote will influence any future outcome.
at the risk of sounding partisan, or just a shill for the rich
a possible explanation for the asymmetry could be that R’s are generally (statistically) richer than D’s. This means they likely have more experience with being asked for money by people who will not pay them back.
D’s are (staitistically) more likely to be in the class of people asking for money they can’t pay back.
It would be nice if people understood this does not make me an R, or opposed to taxing the rich, or opposed to welfare. But even my friends can’t understand that when i kindly suggest they examine their arguments from a wider perspective, or what effect they are likely to have on the size and determination of their “enemy.”
we agree about so much. and yet we disagree so strongly.
i would suggest this has something to do with the human inability to know everything. and the very skilled politicians who play on our prejudices (not “race” here, just ideas we acquired before we were able to think critically, mostly from our family and friends, and beloved profesors)
and in particular “60 minutes.” you don’t seem to have much suspicion that you are being manipulated. but people who are in a position to know, and have no reason to lie to me, tell me the amount of “fraud” is very small. and what you may need is to spend a year in an SS office and track down that “fraud” (which they do) and find out what those disabled are up against. and how many of them die before their cases are investigated.
meanwhile NONE of us is paying a measurable amount of money for “fraud.” except bank fraud. and probably “military-industrial-congress” fraud…. though that might turn out to be a kind of military Keynesianism and doesn’t offend me too much because i like a longer sword to keep my enemies at a distance…. even while having grave misgivings about how the money is being spent, my guess is that if it wasn’t spent we couldn’t have the economy that we do have.
Coberly wrote: “we agree about so much. and yet we disagree so strongly.”
We certainly agree about that observation.
As I have wrote before, I do not find 60 Minutes to be a hotbed of conservative thought and this particular program segment alleged facts. I found only weak responses. Why didn’t SSDI have a program designed to flag attorneys who filed many appeals, especially when almost all of them succeeded? Why aren’t judges flagged for review if they approve most of an attorney’s appeals? How is it possible that some areas of the country have such unusually high numbers of SSDI applicants? And I wonder if that is not the tip of the iceberg.
The Republicans control the US House and Senate now. They are probably going to demand an investigation and some corrections before dealing with the SSDI shortfall. Elections have consequences.
I do NOT believe that the ‘usual suspects’ can solve our economic problems. (Waste, fraud, and abuse.)
But any fraud which is permitted to continue, will breed more fraud, until finally it overwhelms us. Medicare has repeatedly been the victim. Each amount is large and the total must be staggering. The US income tax refund frauds have been in the news most recently. The individual amounts seem to be small but I wonder about total and the impact on the individual taxpayer. (The stress of the delays, accumulating proof, and the uncertainty in dealing with US government.) Periodically frauds have been exposed in military acquisitions, usually because some citizen became a whistleblower.
The US government should not be an easy mark.
“What we have here is a” difference of opinion. (Smiling here)
what we have here is not so much a difference of opinion as it is a pair of non overlapping sets of ignorance. yours and mine. please note this is not an insult, just a description of the human condition: your and mine.
60 minutes need not be a hotbed of conservative opinion to have an agenda… which may be no more than to gain audience share by sensational appeals to what people want to believe.
different areas of the country have different levels of entrenched unemployment. if its hard for an able bodied to find a job, it is impossible for a disabled body to find a job. it would be nice… and i am sure most of the disabled would be overjoyed…to find real jobs at real pay for them.
i have tried to tell my liberal friends that when the number of disabled, unemployed, very elderly, and very sick gets large enough to take more of their money than they want to give, they will find out just how “liberal” they are. from what i have seen it will turn out to be not very.
i base this in large part on Angry Bear where “liberals” are only too ready to “tax the rich” but don’t tax me. i only make a 100k a year, i am not rich.”
and to be entirely fair to Formerly Anonymous, when he said that, I didn’t believe him. I do now. I still wouldn’t go as far as he goes: we still need welfare and unemployment insurance, and medicare, and social security… badly.
note social security is not welfare, and medicare is only about half welfare so far, though it need not be welfare at all. the difference is who pays for it. with SS and half of medicare it’s the ultimate receiver of benefits who pays for it.
the US government is not an easy mark. though i never worked for SS disability, i did work for the food stamp folks, and they spent ALL of their time looking out for fraud. you have just been led to believe that there is a “lot” of it. not so.
i suspect both the attorneys and judges who handled a lot of cases would tell you that they were the best attorneys and the best judges.
i would also bet they were looked at. but maybe someone who knows more will tell us. if we can find someone honest. who knows what they are talking about.
meanwhile be careful about worrying about ‘oo got the biggest piece of burfday cake” as someone i think a lot of once said, “what is that to you?”
you get enough for the work you do in this life (unless you work for WalMart). when you start grasping at nickles and telling yourself stories about waste fraud and abuse you are getting close to mental illness… the kind of mental illness people used to call sin, because it was bad for YOU.
doesn’t mean i don’t think we should keep guarding against fraud.
but the most money you will lose in your lifetime will be because of banks… practices which amount to fraud.
“Republicans control…” and they will demand a circus of investigations. Thats how politics is played. The Dems do it too.
If the “liberals” ever get in power, i will worry about them. but right now the craziest lies are coming from the Right.
the nice thing about being out of power is that you don’t have to lie so much. there is always something evil going on in government. always.
you can’t fix it. you can however vote in the next bad guy who may be worse than the last bad guy.
I agree completely with your take on Social Security old age and survivor. Probably because I don’t see any realistic alternative for the vast majority of Americans.
But I disagree completely with your take on SSDI and with your attitude toward fraud in government programs.
I expect to have differences of opinions occasionally, you don’t.
You assume that differences of opinion must be because of ignorance or prejudice. Giving you the benefit of the doubt, you don’t even seem to understand how offensive those assumptions are.
I assume that differences in opinion are due to different life experiences which lead to different priorities and different conclusions. Sometimes a difference of opinion can be resolved but not always and then it is time to move on.
And so having demonstrated that we truly have a difference of opinion, at this point we should just move on.
Have a good day.
did you read what I said?
i said all humans are ignorant, me as well as you.
that is not an insult. it is a rather commonplace observation of the human condition.
no insult was intended. maybe a reminder that you don’t know everything and that you can be fooled especially by appeals to your prejudice, just as i can.
now, unless you are claiming that you do know everything, or that everything is “only a matter of opinion” i don’t see what you are complaining about.
but don’t let it bother you. i have this trouble with college professors.
but just between you and me, i think i have observed another common (universal… me as well as you) human trait: you pick three words out of what i said, decide you have a right to get mad about that. get mad and “end the conversation,” either by refusing to talk to me or offering to punch me out. good thing this is a blog. i am easier to ignore than to punch out.
I am not angry. I expect that we will exchange ideas in the future.
But we can not reach any better understanding of each other concerning SSDI or defrauding the government.
Assuming you don’t understand what you wrote. Look back at the entire second paragraph of your comment at 2:01pm and the entire leading paragraph in your comment at 5:26pm. You have the right to question your own ignorance or prejudice but you do not have the right to assign those traits to others. You will end the conversation.
I tried to overlook your comment on prejudice but then you came back with ignorance. A frank exchange of ideas can not be maintained with those underlying assumptions. It would be better to assume your opposite is giving you his most thoughtful and well considered opinion or data. Then you return the favor.
I do not believe that we must respect all opinions. But I do believe that we must respect the right of others to hold theirs.
Have a good day.
it seems it is impossible for us to understand each other.
you seem to think that the word “ignorant” is an insult. even when i tell you it is not meant as one.
if i say that I am ignorant… it means that i don’t know something. perhaps it is rash of me to assume that all humans don’t know everything and that therefore they must be ignorant of something.
or even that all of us are ignorant of more than we know.
this is just a fact. something you ought to allow for when you are talking to others. they may not know something you know. you may not know something they know.
letting yourself feel “insulted” is a luxury the world cannot afford.
and it hurts you.
It’s a secret ballot. I got it, Jim.
But when you see results that conflict totally with each other(growing independent registrations vs growing straight party voters) you do not need to be able to see everyone’s vote to know what is happening.