Polarization Lost: Exploring the Decline of Ideological Voting after the Gilded Age

52 Pages Posted: 14 Jan 2015

See all articles by Sara N Chatfield

Sara N Chatfield

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Jeffery A. Jenkins

University of Virginia

Charles Stewart III

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science

Date Written: January 12, 2015

Abstract

We examine the decline in congressional polarization that occurred during the 1920s, as party differences narrowed relative to the high levels of the turn of the twentieth century – a period that has, until recently, been regarded as the high-water-mark of partisan polarization in American politics. While our results are preliminary, we note two sets of findings. First, procedures may have contributed to depolarization, in that a decline in agenda control and procedural dominance by the majority party in the House seems to have been a significant factor associated with depolarization. That is, as highly polarized roll calls declined and the proportion of less polarized substantive roll calls increased, overall levels of polarization in the House declined. Second, both qualitative and roll call evidence suggests that agricultural and tariff policies were key early areas of interparty cooperation, providing important opportunities for cross-party and cross-regional coalitions (like the Farm Bloc and the Progressive Coalition) to form before the Conservative Coalition emerged in the late-1930s.

Suggested Citation

Chatfield, Sara N and Jenkins, Jeffery A. and Stewart III, Charles, Polarization Lost: Exploring the Decline of Ideological Voting after the Gilded Age (January 12, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2548551 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2548551

Sara N Chatfield

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

Jeffery A. Jenkins

University of Virginia ( email )

1400 University Ave
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

Charles Stewart III (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
67
Abstract Views
613
Rank
500,888
PlumX Metrics